British Cycling keen for people to stay on their bikes during lockdown

By Jim van Wijk, PA
·5-min read

British Cycling will continue to offer encouragement for people to stay on their bikes – both outdoors and virtually – during a second national lockdown.

New restrictions are set to be in place until at least December 2, which has seen amateur and grassroots sport paused across England – although elite training and competition, played behind closed doors, can continue.

During the first lockdown earlier this year, there was a massive uptake in cycling as people looked to maintain both their physical health and mental wellbeing.

While British Cycling has suspended all cycling activities and events, chief executive Julie Harrington believes the activity will again have an important part to play over the next month.

“Whether riding alone, joining a group ride, racing in an event or enjoying a coaching session, we know that cycling has played a vital role in helping people to boost their physical and mental wellbeing, in what has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us,” Harrington said in a statement.

“We are naturally disappointed, not least because we know the efforts that our clubs, volunteers and event organisers have gone to over recent months to show that our events and activities can be delivered in a safe and Covid-secure manner.

Cycling will continue to be permitted during the second national lockdown
Cycling will continue to be permitted during the second national lockdown (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“While we fully respect the pressure which the Government is under to limit the spread of the virus, we maintain our belief that the wellbeing benefits gained through small group activities – particularly for less confident riders, young and disabled people – vastly outweigh the very limited risks entailed, and we will continue to make that case alongside colleagues from other sports.

“In the darker and colder days ahead staying active will prove to be an even greater challenge than in the spring, however our team is ready to offer support through a variety of means to help us to come through this challenging period together.”

The Lawn Tennis Association has also expressed disappointment at not being allowed to see some activities continue outdoors despite extensive lobbying of MPs.

Chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “We believe that if people are being encouraged to take part in exercise during lockdown and are allowed to meet someone else from a different household for a socially distanced walk, they should have been able to play tennis against each other on either side of a net.

“The physical and mental health benefits of tennis to participants are high, whilst the risk from the sport is incredibly low.

“It is disappointing that millions of other people in this country will be denied the benefits of our sport at a time when it is more important than ever that the nation remains active.

“This will have a particular impact on those for whom sport is especially important, including disabled people and children and young people.

“There will also be a significant impact on the tennis coaches, officials and venues who contribute so much to the communities they serve.

“These are all people whose businesses and livelihoods depend on our sport, and who, like many others, have already been severely impacted by the pandemic.”

The LTA is also among those who continue to campaign for a comprehensive Sports Recovery Fund which can help grassroots clubs and venues who have been most impacted during the pandemic.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has admitted defeat in its bid to keep courses open.

The APPGG wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on behalf of England Golf, the PGA, the R&A and other leading groups from the industry to make the case for golf to be exempt from the tightened restrictions.

However, the group’s chair, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, now believes there is “no more that can be done” to persuade the Government to change its position and England Golf chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has written to the organisation’s members to confirm the news.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, meanwhile, has been left “devastated” by the news that next month’s UK Snooker Championship has been moved from York to Milton Keynes due to the implications of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Marshall Arena has staged a series of events this year in an established Covid-secure bubble, which includes a requirement that players either stay in the on-site hotel or travel directly from home.

O’Sullivan, who has won the UK Championship seven times, more than any other player, joked he would even prefer to go to Crawley – whose K2 Leisure Centre venue he derided as a “hellhole that smells of urine” in 2018 – than another event at the Milton Keynes venue.

“To not be going there (York) and back to Milton Keynes – that’s just as hard in many ways as having to just keep going to Milton Keynes,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

“I think I’d even take a little tournament at Crawley over Milton Keynes.”