Three years into the supposed legacy of the London Olympics, participation figures have plummeted for the second time in a year, prompting the Sports Minister to promise a new strategy.
Swimming suffered the biggest drop in the latest figures published by Sport England, with 144,200 fewer people swimming on a weekly basis than six months ago, though it remains the country’s most popular sport with more than 2.5 million participants. Gym and “Keep Fit” also fell by 150,000.
The Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, in post since last month’s general election, said: “The recent downward trend in participation has demonstrated the current approach has had its day. It’s not the return we expect for a large investment of public money.
“I am going to develop a new strategy for sport as a matter of urgency. I will consult with the sector on a new approach that will strengthen sport across the country, focus support on those that can deliver the goods and look to take a more joined-up approach to sport and physical activity, across Whitehall.
“I am very disappointed by these numbers. A significant amount of public funding has been invested in sport in the last decade but the results simply aren’t good enough. It’s time for a change.”
Clive Efford, the Labour spokesman, simply called the numbers “a disaster”.
Running, tennis and basketball all showed increases in participation while team sports, including football, rugby league, rugby union hockey and netball, remained stable.
Before the London Olympics, successive Labour and Conservative governments promised the Games would deliver a lasting boost in sporting participation, with an extra one million the target.
The number of regular participants stands at 15.5 million – larger than it was before the Games, but 222,000 less than 12 months ago.Reuse content