Julie Harrington, the chief executive of British Cycling, is among 100 signatories to a letter asking Boris Johnson to set up a Sports Recovery Fund to aid the sports and fitness sector during the coronavirus crisis.
Sports Pro Media reports that a recent study carried out by Sport England and Sheffield Hallam University found that every £1 spent on community sports participation and physical activity generates £4 for the economy in England, and that the sector contributes £85bn to the economy each year.
The letter, co-ordinated by ukactive, highlights the contribution of the sector to society and calls for a Sports Recovery Fund to be set up to help protect jobs and facilities.
CEO of ukactive, Huw Edwards, said: “This is a health crisis and our sector can play a vital role in supporting our NHS by restoring the nation’s physical and mental resilience in the face of this terrible virus.
“We call on the Government to deliver the urgent fiscal, taxation and regulatory support required to save sports and activity providers across the UK from disappearing from our communities at the time they are needed most.”
The letter states: "Grassroots sport, fitness, and wider recreational activity is proven to improve physical, mental, and social wellbeing. This makes our sector an essential service as our nation recovers from the damage caused by Covid-19.
"Covid-19 has undermined our commercial revenue streams with both stadia and leisure facilities closed or greatly reduced in capacity. The impact of this will potentially lead to a lost generation of sport and activity.
"We are particularly concerned about the impact on those whose participation has been limited during the pandemic. Physical activity levels, especially in the most vulnerable groups, are significantly below where they were tracking pre-Covid-19. This is at a time when the government has committed to levelling up outcomes and opportunities across the country."
Addressing Johnson directly, it continues: "We know your passion for the power of sport. You have set out your belief that sport drives positive change.
"This is, no doubt, hugely influenced by your role as Mayor of London in delivering the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the legacy vision for sport that event created.
"By placing sport and physical activity now at the heart of our nation's renewal and using it to drive new ambitions for health and wellbeing, we can create a strong, prosperous, resilient, and healthy nation for generations to come."