Yesterday in Parliament, Black Country MP John Spellar welcomed a Government announcement of £300 million to financially support spectator sports in England.
However, Spellar called for ‘a change of approach for sports participation’, highlighting the ‘huge benefits for both physical and mental health’ for participants unable to do so because of current lockdown restrictions. He reiterated his call from earlier in the day, for the Government to adopt ‘an evidence-based risk management approach’ to allow hospitality and sports venues to open in a COVID-secure manner.
Spellar – who also serves as Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing – later criticised the lack of funding given to boxing as part of the package, commenting: “Boxing gives young people a focus and discipline in life, as well as improving fitness. British boxing is a success – we regularly produce word champions across all weight divisions. Amateur clubs or small-hall shows are important to producing the Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury’s of the future – not to mention the jobs boxing shows support. The Government needs to look at this again.”
John Spellar: Thank you Mr Speaker. Can I welcome the package and also congratulate the Minister on securing it from the Treasury. But we all recognise that it can’t last forever. So does the Minister accept that we need a change of approach for sports participation – with its huge benefits for both physical and mental health. Also, we need help for the huge ecosystem of the sport and leisure industries and their army of employees. They’ve spent considerable sums to make them safe – and they need the public back through their doors and gates. That includes sports clubs, racecourses, gyms, pubs, clubs, betting shops and casinos. So, can the Minister now persuade the Health Department and the Cabinet Office to abandon their risk-averse strategy and actually adopt an evidence-based risk management approach.
Minister Huddlestone: The Rt. Hon. Gentleman makes a really pertinent point about the importance of mental health benefits of sport as well as the physical benefits. Conversations about what we can open and when are always ongoing and all opinions are welcome, but we will take an evidence-based approach to those decisions.