OPINION: Why sport should be at the forefront of the easing of lockdown restrictions
A light is emerging at the end of the long tunnel which has been this third national lockdown with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to unveil his roadmap out of lockdown next week.
There is expected to be a slow but steady easing out of Lockdown with schools set to reopen from the 8th March and non-essential shops the next to open if all goes as planned over the next few weeks.
Of course, this will be a welcome boost to so many up and down the country who have been struggling with the isolation and the lack of freedom that comes with the restrictions. So many of us are desperate to see family and friends again, in some capacity, and hopefully the government’s announcement addresses these needs.
But I also hope that sport is at the forefront of what Johnson announces. Early rumours suggest golf and tennis will be allowed which is understandable given the ease in which players can be socially distant and limit sharing any equipment.
However, it would be great if the government could go further than that. A recent study found that the risk of coronavirus transmission from sharing sports equipment is “lower than once fought”. This could mean that other sports, such as football, could be given the green light to return.
Now, I’m not expecting that competitive football, outside the professional game, will be allowed straight away but it could be that teams are allowed to return to training which would improve the physical and mental well-being of thousands across the country.
So many people rely on their participation in sport for an escape from their day-to-day life and there is plenty of evidence that shows that taking part in sport can decrease the chance of depression and anxiety.
This is not only true for adult sport. If it is deemed safe for children to return to the confinement classrooms in early March, then it is surely safe for them to return to an open sports field?
The government is under pressure to make sure this lockdown is the last lockdown and it is important they don’t rush it.
However, making sport a crucial part of next week’s announcement will be the news so many people desperately need to hear.