Sporting authorities respond to government's plan for easing of lockdown restrictions

Generla shot of golfers at Llanymynech Golf Club, Oswestry

England Golf wanted to come back earlier than the March 29 date set by the government. - Credit: JACOB KING/PA

Sporting bodies have been giving their reaction to the government's roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions and while all welcome the light at the end of the tunnel, some would have preferred an earlier start date.

Golf will be one of the first sports to be welcomed back but they believe the mechanics of the sport, as well as scientific facts, should have led to a quicker resumption.

A statement from England Golf said: “We are extremely disappointed that the scientific evidence presented to government detailing how the sport can be played in a COVID-19 secure manner has not resulted in a return to play date earlier than March 29.

“We will now examine the details of the government’s roadmap before making further comment and working with our community of clubs, counties and golfers to prepare for the game’s safe return.”

Tennis too had hoped for an earlier return that March but the Lawn Tennis Association have accepted the decision.

They said: “We are pleased that there is now a clear date for when outdoor tennis will be allowed to resume in England.

“We know sport has a key role in supporting the physical and mental health of the nation, so its return will give a boost to the whole country and is very welcome.

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“Clearly tennis is a naturally socially-distanced and safe activity and so we would have liked restrictions to be lifted without delay and made the case for this.

“However, we are now focused on supporting venues, coaches, officials and players to prepare for the return of outdoor tennis on March 29.”

Rugby bosses meanwhile are waiting to see a clearer picture of what their return will look like.

The RFU said: “This is good news for the game and for players, coaches and volunteers across the country, who will once again be able to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being involved in team sport.

“We will work with DCMS on the COVID-19 protocols for the community game, including the format of rugby that will be permitted in return to play.

“We also look forward to working with government and other sports on the safe return of fans to stadiums.”

The FA welcomed the announcement but said the non-league pyramid falls outside some of their plans.

They said: “We can confirm that the grassroots season has been extended until the end of June in order to provide additional flexibility and time for leagues to complete their fixtures this season if they wish to do so.

“Please note the extension does not apply to the steps three to six of the National League system, regional feeder leagues or the women’s football pyramid.

“The process to determine the preferred route forward for these competitions is currently ongoing and we will provide a further update on this in due course.”

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