Tessa Jowell MP, Labour’s Shadow Olympics Minister, commenting on Sport England’s annual sports participation figures today said:
“It is disappointing that as we head towards the Olympics, the number of adults taking part in sport has decreased for the first time since Labour in Government set its target of getting 2 million more people active by 2013.
“We knew it would be a most demanding target – no country in the world has achieved an increase of that level, but Labour was clear that the Olympics could provide exceptional motivation to everyone across the country to get active.
“What the Sport England figures show is that since the Tory-led Coalition took power, the number of adults taking part in sport three times a week for 30 minutes has decreased by 110,000 and out of 30 sports listed, 19 have seen a decrease in participation while only 4 have seen an increase.
“Most disturbing of all is the drop in 16-19 year olds playing sport. Michael Gove showed how out of touch he was by abolishing School Sports Partnerships which had a track record of increasing the number of young people taking part in 2 hours a week in sport from 44% in 2003 to 90% in 2009. Without the coordination that SSPs provided, schools have been left to fend for themselves. As fewer young people have the opportunity to do sport at school, it is no surprise that they are not getting active as adults.
“The Coalition have shown they are not serious about increasing participation in sport – the Department of Health scrapped Labour’s target of increasing the number of adults active in sport by 1 million and now the DCMS looks set to downgrade their commitment in the New Year.
“For many reasons – from the requirement to meet our Olympic promises to preventing obesity – the government should act now to reverse this situation and get participation back on track.
“It is up to sports Governing Bodies too to step up their efforts in the lead up to the Olympics and engage more people at a grassroots level in sport.
Clive Efford MP, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, said:
“At a time when participation should going up as we approach the Olympics today’s figures on participation are very disappointing.”
“This Government has been a disaster for sport from day one – Cutting over 60% of funding from school sports is not the way to increase future participation in sport and deliver a lasting legacy from the Olympic Games.”