LTA chief Scott Lloyd ‘disappointed’ with Government’s coronavirus restrictions

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd has said he is “disappointed” with the outcome of the Government’s latest coronavirus restrictions regarding the closure of all outdoor tennis courts as well as indoor facilities in England.

There has been widespread criticism of the decision to shut down children’s sport during the four-week coronavirus lockdown in England from Thursday, while golf and tennis bodies unsuccessfully lobbied the Government for facilities to be allowed to remain open.

Indoor sporting facilities have had a particularly challenging time, with many not reopening at all since the initial lifting of lockdown restrictions earlier this year.

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“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,” said Lloyd.

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

“Despite these arguments the Government has decided that tennis courts should close.

“We appreciate the Government’s decision to allow Britain’s elite players to continue to train and compete. However, 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.”

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Lloyd continued: “Over the past few days there has been tremendous support from the tennis community for the campaign to keep courts open. That has really helped to bring to life the value of the sport to the nation, and I’d like to thank everyone who contacted their MP to make the case for tennis to continue as a safe, socially distanced sport. Doing this can still help to ensure our sport is treated appropriately going forward, so if you are yet to do so then we would continue to urge you to write to your local MP.

“Many of you have been in touch asking if we could set up a petition to demonstrate support for tennis. We haven’t ruled out doing this in the future, but whilst petitions can commit the Government to giving a response or holding a debate, these take time to both be approved and be effective. We have found direct lobbying of MPs to be a quicker, more direct approach, helping to build important support within Parliament.

“Whilst we are disappointed with the outcome, we respect the decision the Government has taken and now ask all those involved in tennis in England to adhere to it.”

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