International strategies, policies, programs, reports and research relating to emerging trends in sport participation, governance and the impact of COVID-19.
- Canada could face hit to youth sport following COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Houston, Inside the Games, (6 April 2021). A national study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Canada Games Council (CGC) has revealed one in three young people are unsure if they will return to sport following the safe return to play.
- Navigating COVID-19: A Community Sport Perspective, James Anderson, Rocky Point Sailing Association, SIRC, (1 December 2020). When the COVID-19 pandemic was announced, summer programs were nearly sold-out and dozens of school field trips were booked for the spring. RPSA’s Executive Committee immediately established a taskforce to help understand the pandemic restrictions and their implications. Initially, we were optimistic. We thought perhaps by summer the pandemic would pass. When it became clear COVID-19 was here to stay, anxiety set in about RPSA’s future. Ultimately, RPSA’s volunteers and staff developed return to sport policies, safely ran physically distanced programs, and effectively managed finances to ensure the organization’s long-term financial health. For our Executive Committee, it was a humbling experience, albeit a bit of a paradox – although COVID-19 kept our community physically apart, it also brought our community closer together through a shared passion and hope in a mutual future. This blog shares some of our learnings and actions.
- Impact Report 2020-2021, ParticipAction, (September 2021). This was a tremendously challenging 2020 for so many of us as the pandemic eroded the foundations of our financial security, our social connections and of course our physical and mental health. Too few of us took the reins on our health by moving our bodies to support good physical and mental wellness when it mattered most, instead relying on potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms and adopting more sedentary behaviours. Staying home was mandated and essential for many people, but these factors collided with our already poor physical activity rates to amplify our crisis of physical inactivity. A significant decline in physical activity levels of Canadians occurred at the onset of the pandemic (Di Sebastiano et al., 2020; Moore et al., 2020;2021), impacting the overall health and wellbeing of our country. Those facing health inequalities have been even more profoundly affected. According to the Mental Health Commission (2020), Canadians are four times more likely to report their mental health is worse than before COVID-19. Physical activity helps to minimize symptoms of depression and anxiety, promotes feelings of happiness, boosts moods and builds resiliency to respond to stressful situations (Biddle & Asare, 2011; Sharma et al., 2006)!
- The Pandemic Impact on Girls in Sport, Canadian Women & Sport, (July 2021). COVID-19 has profoundly impacted society, an impact that we will feel for years to come. Within sport, COVID-19 has resulted in huge revenue losses and deep cuts to programming. Every individual involved in sport, from leaders to athletes to coaches, at all levels of sport, felt these changes. But, the impact of those changes were likely not be experienced equally by all. Reviewing sport participation statistics from before COVID-19, fewer girls participated in sport compared to boys and girls experienced unique barriers to sport. The Pandemic Impact on Girls in Sport report, which collected data from over 5,000 Canadian families, shows that 1 in 4 girls are not committed to returning to sport. If we don’t act now to counter this trend, we might realize a new normal of over 350,000 girls sitting on the sidelines in the post-COVID-19 world.
- Jumpstart State of Sport Report, Jumpstart, (March 2021). To build back sport and play means understanding the full scale of the challenges we’re facing and that’s exactly what this report is intended to do. The Jumpstart State of Sport Report highlights the findings of a research study we undertook in partnership with Ipsos to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to sport in Canada — and the findings make it clear that Canada’s recreational sport ecosystem is in dire need of support.
- Impacts of COVID-19 on local sports organisations: Nationwide survey results, Sport for Life, (August 2020). This report outlines the findings of the nationwide Impacts of COVID-19 on Local Sports Organizations survey that Sport for Life conducted between May 19 and June 5, 2020, based on Sport Calgary's recent survey. The data collected from 1,300 respondents representing nearly 4 million members and more than 56 sports, informs governments of the operational and financial impacts the pandemic has had on sports organizations. These organizations, which represent about 4% of the sport sector across Canada, collectively employ roughly 14,500 employees so their viability could affect more than 350,000 jobs significantly impacting Canada’s unemployment rate. 99% of sport organizations are affected by COVID-19 while 65% of clubs and associations cannot access Canadian emergency funding initiatives. As many as 21% may not recover without emergency support, resulting in less opportunities for sport.
- Impacts of COVID-19 on local sports organisations [infographic], Edmonton Sport Council, (August 2020). Our Impacts of COVID-19 on Local Sports Organizations survey is now complete. We'll be sharing our findings the next week. We all need to learn from each other as we figure out what's next for the sport and physical activity ecosystem.
- Impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on movement and play behaviours of Canadian children and youth: a national survey, Sarah A. Moore, Guy Faulkner, Ryan E. Rhodes, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 17, Article 85, (2020). Only 4.8% (2.8% girls, 6.5% boys) of children and 0.6% (0.8% girls, 0.5% boys) of youth were meeting combined movement behaviour guidelines during COVID-19 restrictions. Children and youth had lower PA levels, less outside time, higher SB (including leisure screen time), and more sleep during the outbreak. Parental encouragement and support, parental engagement in PA, and family dog ownership were positively associated with healthy movement behaviours. Although families spent less time in PA and more time in SB, several parents reported adopting new hobbies or accessing new resources.
- Survey led by Dalhousie researcher shows COVID-19 lockdown’s impact on children, youth activity, Aya Al-Hakim, Global News, (13 July 2020). The study shows that in April, one month after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, less than three per cent of Canadian youth ages five to 17 were meeting the minimum recommendations in the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep — in contrast to 15 per cent before the health crisis.
European Union (EU)
- Good and bad effects of corona pandemic on sports participation in Denmark, Kirsten Sparre, Play the Game, (15 October 2020). Research from the Danish Institute for Sports Studies shows that the corona pandemic has affected participation rates in sport and exercise both negatively and positively. Whilst 20% have stopped exercising, 25% of those who were not active before the pandemic, now exercise regularly.
- Mapping study on measuring the economic impact of Covid-19 on the sport sector in the EU, European Union, (2020). The report, prepared by Ecorys and SportsEconAustria (SpEA), aims to support evidence-based policy making at both national and EU level. It also intends to help the sport and public sector tackle and mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic on the sport industry. The report suggests that the impact on the sport sector is considerable in 2020 due to the current pandemic. For the Member States the impact vary depending on: the size of total sport related Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per country; the relative importance of the total sport sector; the relative importance of each sector within the Vilnius definition; existing or possible measures taken as a result of the pandemic. All Member States (except for Czechia) foresee a decline of their share of sport-related GDP by at least 10% in 2020, under a 'higher' scenario of more stringent measures. The impact of COVID-19 varies considerably across sport sectors. The core sport sector 'sporting services' may show a reduction of around a fifth to a quarter depending on the scenario (lower: 21.5%; medium: 23.1%; higher: 26.7%) when compared to a hypothetical no-COVID reference scenario.
- Campaign launched in Germany to inspire children to play sport after pandemic, Geoff Berkeley, Inside the Games, (4 August 2021). The German Olympic Sports Confederation's (DOSB) German Sports Youth (dsj) say it is implementing "this offensive for a restart of children’s and youth sports" on behalf of the country’s Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The campaign focuses on "national days of action", with the first of these scheduled to take place on October 2 in Hamburg.
- National Sport Club Survey 2021, NZ Amateur Sport Association, (1 October 2021). The National Sport Club Survey (NSCS) is an annual snapshot of the management and operation of sport clubs. 2021 is the fourth year for the project. Initial insights from the 2021 survey include:
- Just 5.1% of sport clubs report losing money in 2021, which is fewer than 2020 (11%) and similar to what was reported in 2019 and 2018.
- The average membership of a sport club in New Zealand has also rebounded in 2021. Clubs report an average of 200 members, which is where that metric was in 2018, A decrease had been observed in 2019 (190) and 2020 (175).
- The percentage of those under age 30 on a sport club board or committee was just 8%, which has been consistent for the past three years.
- Think Piece: COVID-19, Sport New Zealand, (2020). This scan looks to highlight some of the longer-term implications from COVID-19 that are now emerging for the play, active recreation and sport sector. It explores: assumed crisis trajectory; longer term uncertainties; financial impact; wider societal wellbeing; globalisation; political leadership; mobility and proximity behaviour; impact on sport.
- Activity levels, Associate Professor Elaine Hargreaves, University of Otago, (2020). A project examining the impact of lockdown restrictions on Kiwis’ physical activity has already produced some interesting findings.
- Preliminary results show that 38.5 per cent of those surveyed did more physical activity than prior to lockdown, with 25.5 per cent doing about the same, and 36 per cent doing less.
- Overall, the people who were highly active before lockdown [generally exceeding the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes moderate intensity physical activity over the course of a week] were less active than usual during lockdown, while those people who were moderately active or not very active before lockdown [either just meeting or not meeting those recommended guidelines] became more active over the lockdown period.
- Almost half (45 per cent) of those people less active during lockdown said they were unable to do their preferred form of exercise, such as going to the gym or surfing due to lockdown restrictions.
United Kingdom (UK)
- Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors, UK Parliament, (June 2020). The DCMS Committee has launched an inquiry into the 'Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors'. It will consider both the immediate and long-term impact that Covid-19 and the related social and financial measures are having on the wide range of industries and organisations under the Committee’s remit. Various sport organisations provided written or oral testimony including UK Sport, Sport England, UKactive, London Sport, Youth Sport Trust, Sport and Recreation Alliance, and more.
- Impact Of Covid-19 On Sport For Development Sector Having 'Profound Effect', Sport for Development Coalition, (July 2020). The SFDC, a growing Movement of more than 100 charities, networks and governing bodies who believe in the power of sport to generate positive social outcomes, has published its response to the DCMS Committee inquiry on the impact of the pandemic. The SFDC reveals that the pandemic has had “a significant impact” on the sector from reduced funding and financial security, to a forced reduction and adaptation in delivery, and increased challenges in engaging participants.
- Return to recreational team sport framework, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, (9 July 2020). The government recognises the vital role sports and physical activity plays in ensuring physical and mental health. The return of team sport is an exciting moment for the millions of people who use this activity as their exercise of choice and gain the multiple physical, mental and social benefits of playing. This return must be made as safe as possible, which is why the government has produced this guidance and why sport governing bodies will be preparing thorough plans of their own. It is recognised that risk in sport cannot be completely eradicated, but with caution and care, risks can be reduced and the benefits of team sport enjoyed fully again.
- Less than a third of Brits are happy with their fitness levels following COVID pandemic – as National Fitness Day calls for a revolution in activity, ukactive, (September 2021). Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,087 UK adults aged 18+ between 3 September 2021 and 5 September 2021. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of UK adults aged 18+ by key demographics including age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. Some key findings were:
- Less than a third (27%) of UK adults say they are as physically fit as they would like to be following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 27% said they were less active than before the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, with 51% reporting the same activity levels, and 17% saying they were more active.
- Asked if they were as physically fit as they would like to be, exactly half (50%) of those questioned said they were not, and only 27% reported they were happy with their fitness levels (the remaining 23% were either unsure or neither agreed nor disagreed).
- Of those UK adults who were unhappy with their fitness, 56% said their fitness levels prevented them from taking part in vigorous activities and sport, such as swimming, running, playing netball and football. And 12% said their fitness levels even stopped them from doing gentle everyday activities such as showering and getting dressed, washing up, folding clothes, and strolling around the house, park, or shops.
- More than half (52%) of the respondents said physical activity is just as important to their mental health as their physical health – a benefit felt particularly among over-55s (61%).
- Elite athletes paired with Covid sufferers for recovery promotion project, Abertay University [UK], (1 July 2021). A new programme where international elite athletes, coaches and sports figures share their experiences of unexpected setbacks and coping strategies with people who have been negatively impacted by Covid has been launched by Abertay University.
- UK Sport’s Return To Major Sports Event survey finds 97% of fans will come back, UK Sport, (21 April 2021). UK Sport has today published the results of its Return To Major Sports Events survey, which found that an overwhelming 97% of sports fans will attend live events again.
- The impact of coronavirus on activity levels revealed, Sport England, (April 2021). Our Active Lives Adult Survey shows the impact of the first eight months of coronavirus on activity levels, which activities grew in popularity and which audiences struggled.
- Returning to Action: Evaluating Organisational Preparedness in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, David Barrett and Richard Coleman for Sport & Recreation Alliance [UK], (2021). The research was commissioned to investigate the current outlook for community sport as restrictions are eased, with a particular focus on their readiness to return to action. The survey focusses primarily on voluntary clubs, which are the setting in which around 4 million people regularly take part in sport, though other organisation types, such as private companies and sole traders delivering coaching are included in the findings. An understanding of this sector of the sports’ market is crucial to developing policy responses which will underpin efforts to match and eventually surpass pre-pandemic levels of participation in the community.
- Survey reveals exercise habits during lockdown, SportWales, (26 May 2020). Walking is the most popular activity among those people who are staying active. According to the survey, 59% of Welsh adults say that they have walked for leisure in the last week, with the 55+ age group the most likely to be doing this. The Joe Wicks factor has certainly been felt in Wales, with 30% of people doing some form of home-based physical activity in the past week, either by following a video or online workout, or by creating their own session. This sort of fitness activity has proven to be even more popular with 16-34 year olds, as half of this age group report doing a home workout in the last week. Despite the overall willingness to be active, only 56% of adults say that they are finding exercise enjoyable and satisfying at this time. Among the reasons for this is the fact that 40% of adults say they do not find exercising on their own enjoyable. Females, younger adults, and those from lower socio-economic grades are more likely to say this.
- New exercise habits forming during coronavirus crisis, Sport England, (14 April 2020). Carried out earlier this month, after the government announced its social distancing guidelines, the new figures show 62% of adults in England say it’s more important to be active now, compared to before coronavirus. Unsurprisingly, the restrictions on movement have led to new habits forming, with walking, cycling and home workouts now the most popular forms of exercise. Walking tops the standings with 59% of adults using their daily activity to go for a walk, while 44% of people are doing home-based activity (including 23% doing online workouts), and 14% are using informal play and games to keep active. Cycling is also proving to be a popular family activity, with 18% of those who are cycling, doing so with children in their household. While 20% of those doing home-based fitness online are doing it with children in their household.
- Sport England Research - Are new habits forming during the crisis? Rory Palmer, sports think tank, (15 April 2020). This data presents some interesting questions for policy-makers in public health, active travel and in the physical activity, exercise and sports communities. The crucial question policy-makers need to be asking is what might prevent people from building more regular exercise or opting for more walking or cycling into their usual travel habits in the longterm.
- Active Lives Adult Survey reports, Sport England, (October 2020). Activity levels in England were on course to reach record highs before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit, according to our latest Active Lives Adult Survey.The survey shows that the gains made in the first 10 months of the year were cancelled out by drops in activity levels during this period, despite an increase in cycling for leisure, running outside and exercising at home as people adapted their activity habits during the pandemic. Overall, activity levels in England remained stable across the 12 months. To explain the survey’s results as clearly as possible, we’ve produced two reports. The first covers the full 12 months up until mid-May, while the second is a snapshot of people’s behaviours and attitudes between mid-March and mid-May and covers the period when restrictions across the country were introduced. This report gives the most detailed insight yet into how people adapted their activity habits in the first few weeks of restrictions.
- Children's activity levels down but many embrace new opportunities, Sport England, (14 January 2021). Our latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey shows teenage boys were hardest hit by the pandemic but girls became more active as they found alternative ways to be active.
- Covid-19 Impact Report, Community Leisure UK, (August 2020). This report highlights the significant risks posed to Community Leisure UK members across England, Scotland and Wales as a result of Covid-19, and potentially disastrous long-term impacts for the sector. The data presented in this report is based on insights from our members’ survey, concluded at the end of July 2020. There is a high risk of venues and facilities closing permanently as a result of rationalisation and financial pressures. There are currently 342 facilities at risk of permanent closure, including 85 leisure centres and 24 swimming pools. This would result in a loss of 18% of swimming pools run by our members, which would impact on communities, clubs and athletes. Approximately 60% of members intend to reopen for sports clubs to access facilities initially.
- COVID-19 Physical Activity Tracker. Shortly after the government issued guidance on social distancing and limiting people to one piece of outdoor exercise a day, Sport England commissioned Savanta ComRes to conduct regular surveys. Each week for the initial eight weeks of lockdown, Savanta ComRes surveyed the English public to assess their activity levels and attitudes towards physical activity. After the initial eight weeks, surveys are being conducted on a monthly basis, with ad hoc collections at other times in response to specific changes to restrictions.Overall, activity levels held up relatively well throughout – with a third of adults doing 30 minutes or more of physical activity (at a level that raised their breathing rate) on five or more days a week. But only 19% of parents said their children were meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines and doing an hour a day. Below the surface, we also see familiar inequalities replicated, even exacerbated. The whole population has been affected, but not affected equally. Summaries of each survey and links to the full data are available from the Sport England website.
- Insight Pack: Health Conditions and Physical Activity - the impact of COVID-19, Sport England/We are Undefeatable, (June 2020). This report, developed in collaboration with our We Are Undefeatable partners, draws upon a range of sources to provide the most up to date picture of activity amongst adults with long term health conditions, and importantly, what they are thinking and feeling in light of COVID-19.
United Nations (UN)
- The UN Global Programme gathers 'International Expert Group to explore The Impact of COVID19 on the Security of Major Sporting Events' (16 July 2020). High-level representatives and leading experts from the field of sport, security and health gathered at a virtual ‘International Expert Group Meeting on The Impact of COVID19 on the Security of Major Sporting Events’. Participants exchanged views on the challenges caused by the pandemic on major sporting events and agreed on the urgent need to develop comprehensive preventive measures encompassing health, safety and security aspects.
- COVID-19, Women, Girls and Sport: Build Back Better, UN Women , (July 2020). The impacts of COVID-19 are already being felt harder by women and girls in many areas of life due to gender inequalities, and we see this mirrored in sport. This brief is informed by the Sports for Generation Equality Framework, launched by UN Women and the International Olympic Committee in March 2020. It focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls in sports in five areas: Leadership, Gender-Based Violence, Economic Opportunities, Media Participation and Representation, and Girls Participation in Sport. It presents key recommendations to different actors in the sport ecosystem that go beyond mitigating the impact of the crisis on women and girls, and create a future in and through sport that builds back better.
- The impact of COVID-19 on sport, physical activity and well-being and its effects on social development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, (May 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have very considerable effects on the sporting world as well as on the physical and mental well-being of people around the world. The following recommendations seek to both support the safe re-opening of sporting events and tournaments following the pandemic, as well as to maximize the benefits that sport and physical activity can bring in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.
- Sport: a global accelerator of peace and sustainable development for all: Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations General Assembly, (13 July 2020). Prepared in the context of the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the report highlights the important role of physical activity and sport in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being and examines the role of digital technology in helping sport to fulfill that role. It further examines means of building global resilience to counter future shocks through investment and innovation in sport and sport-related policies.
United States of America (USA)
- The COVID Era Fitness Consumer, International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), (2020). A report based on a study of American health club members commissioned by IHRSA and conducted by Kelton. The report discusses health club user sentiment and behavior prior to, during, and after facility closures. The survey was conducted online during the period of August 24-28, 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%. “The data confirms the essential role health clubs play in promoting and maintaining the well-being of consumers. Seventy percent of members rely on their health clubs to maintain overall health, while 30% use their health and fitness centers to help build their immune system. More than one-third miss the community aspect of belonging to a health club. Clearly, there’s no replacement for health clubs or gyms.”
- Commonwealth Moves, The Commonwealth Secretariat, (accessed 13 October 2021). Recognising the critical importance of sport and exercise for physical and mental health, in fostering community cohesion and inclusion, and also in contributing to social and economic development, the Commonwealth has long been working with governments to boost this sector. Building on its previous advances in this area, the Secretariat has created the Commonwealth Moves initiative to help sustain and re-boot this sector in the Covid-19 new reality.