Inside Lines: Give time off for sport, bosses urged

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The Independent Online

Businesses are to be asked to give employees time off to fight the flab by taking part in sport in a new national anti-obesity drive. The Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, wants bosses to co-operate by allowing workers tospend a few hours a week getting fit in company time. He says: "This is in its early stages, but I shall be approaching business leaders and trade unions to discuss the idea with them. I hope in the present climate, with so much emphasis on obesity, they will co-operate." While there is no likelihoodof formal legislation being introduced by the Government, Sutcliffe believes the scheme could take off as successfully as it has in Finland, which has tackled its own growing obesity problem by allowing employees an hour a day for fitness classes or training for sports activities. Sutcliffe and his new boss Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, are also endorsing a national sports day for schools to boost competition among pupils, and the setting up of a website where school sports results can be listed and inter-school fixtures arranged on a national basis.

Bingo! Grass roots get a new TV game plan

Clever clogs, these Scandinavians. Here's another idea from around those wintry parts which British sport hopes will knock 'em cold, though unlike the Finnish model this one is more for couch potatoes. BingoLotto. A new TV game from Sweden designed to raise money for grass-roots sport, recreation and the voluntary sector, to be distributed via the CCPR. It will be broadcast weekly on digital channels Virgin and Challenge, and a £2 ticket is claimed to have a more than one in 10 chance of winning prizes ranging from cars, TVs and holidays to £100,000. Clickety-click.

Beijing athletes can wear face masks

If the asthmatic Paula Radcliffe opts to run the Beijing marathon in a smog mask to mitigate the effects of the city's choking pollution, there will be no objection from the Olympics or athletics authorities, who are being made acutely aware of the health risks facing endurance competitors in the Games. Sports scientists at Brunel University have been working on a prototype for Radcliffe and other British athletes. So serious is the problem that members of the US boxing team who visited China recently did their roadwork in the hotel hallways rather than the streets, describing the air as "disgusting". Randy Wilber, the US Olympic team's chief physiologist, wants all US athletes to wear masks from the moment they set foot in Beijing.

Recognition overdue for man with a mission

The streetwise Geoff Thompson has probably done more than anyone to help combat gang culture through encouraging disaffected kids to take up sport. The former world karate champion is 50 today, and a fitting birthday present would be more Government recognition and support of the Youth Charter, an organisation he has runon a shoestring from Manchester for 15 years. Thompson's "missionary" work has been undervalued for too long, something we hope the new sports overlord, Andy Burnham, will rectify when they meet shortly.

Why ITV have not boxed clever in axing Rosenthal

Celebrity-besotted ITV's decision not to renew the contract of their most experienced pro, top boxing presenter Jim Rosenthal, could rebound. Antennae have been alerted at the BBC and Setanta, both keen to screen Amir Khan's fights when the fighter's ITV exclusive deal ends in June at the same time as Rosenthal's.