- National Teams
Basketball clubs and players were dealt another blow today after the government further delayed the opening of gyms and leisure centres country-wide.
There was a wide expectation leisure centres would join pubs, restaurants and hairdressers with permission to reopen on July 4, but instead Boris Johnson has classed leisure centres as a ‘close proximity’ venue that will need to remain shut.
Oliver Dowden the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted the government is now targeting a mid-July opening.
Many people keen to hit the gym & keeping Britain fit is key in Covid battle
We’ve made lots of progress & I know steps businesses have taken to make their spaces & equipment safe
Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) June 23, 2020
In light of the announcement, Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett commented:
“Today’s announcement disappointingly offered no further momentum for sport, but in light of the Minister’s statement, we are hopeful the prospects of a safe return to play will improve over the next few weeks.”
That means that, until further notice, basketball remains at Level 3 of the sport’s Return To Play Roadmap with 2m social distancing, no contact or indoor activity and strict hygiene measures in place.
“We are working hard behind the scenes with full consideration our members’ health and safety, while recognising that we want to get back court as soon as possible,” Kellett added.
Sport England Chair Nick Bitel released a statement that read as follows:
“We understand that difficult choices need to be made as the country exits lockdown, and while it is disappointing for the sector that no specific date has been given for the reopening of facilities today, we will continue to work closely with government to ensure this happens as soon as possible, ideally within the coming weeks, an ambition we know is shared by government.
“These facilities are vital for the health of the nation, with almost 13 million people in England using private and public gyms and leisure centres alone to get active, and these are typically the core venues for indoor community sports such as badminton and basketball – as well as of course the millions of people who go swimming each week.
“It’s important that the government continues to engage with the sector to get these facilities open, not just because activity levels will clearly become a vital public health intervention in the new coronavirus (Covid-19) era, but also because the longer they stay closed, the greater the danger to their ability to survive financially.
“With the first leisure trust collapsing last week in Peterborough, this is a real and growing risk, with public leisure providers a particularly deep concern because so many of those operators provide activities for disadvantaged groups.”