Oliver Dowden calls on ‘best and brightest’ to help restart UK sports

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has outlined plans to resume live sport behind closed doors across the UK with the formation of a new taskforce.

During last night’s Downing Street briefing, the Culture Secretary revealed that representatives from the arts, cultural and sporting world would be coming together to help get the UK’s recreation and leisure sectors up and running again once lockdown measures are lifted.

Planning for a gradual return, Dowden said the taskforce would ‘help us think through how we can get sport back safely in a way that works for both clubs, players and supporters alike’.

He added that guidance published last week on the resumption of sport would ‘pave the way for the return of live sports behind closed doors in the near future’.

He told the press conference: “Finding creative, crowd-free ways to navigate coronavirus is the biggest challenge for our recreation and leisure sectors right now. So this week I am setting up a renewal task force which will help them bounce back. It will be made up of the brightest and the best from the creative, tech and sporting worlds.

“They will be advising me on how we find new and different ways to get industries back up and running.”

The taskforce will be made up of Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet; Alex Scott, former England international and Arsenal footballer and now a Sports Broadcaster; Lord (Michael) Grade of Yarmouth, TV executive and former Chair of BBC and ITV; Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of the Arts Council England; Edward Mellors of Mellors Group Events; Neil Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal; Baroness (Martha) Lane-Fox of Soho, Founder of LastMinute.com and Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador Theatre Group.

Meeting on a weekly basis, the group will be responsible for ensuring that new guidelines to resume sports and cultural activities are in line with guidance issued from public health bodies, as well as building on the existing guidance to offer sector-specific input.

There will be an emphasis placed upon the development of ‘creative solutions to drive the return of the sectors, in addition to providing key sector stakeholders direct access to ministers.

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