Coronavirus: When Will Military Sport Return?

There is cautious optimism that forces sport will be able to start up again soon, but only when it is safe to do so.

Military sport chiefs are hopeful that Forces sport will be able to resume soon after all events were cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The sports boards of all three services have spoken to Forces News about the impact of the pandemic and the next steps going forward.

It is thought sports such as cycling, golf and sailing could be among the first to return when it is deemed safe to do so.

It comes as professional sports in the UK start to resume again with the Premier League set to restart on Wednesday.

Colonel Paul Leighton, Chief of Staff at the Army Sport Control Board, told Forces News: "At the request of the Army, we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, really, an estimate on what Army sport may be able to start first based on the current social distancing requirements and national governing body advice.

"These recommendations will be pushed up to Army headquarters within the next couple of weeks either for their endorsement or their rejection.

"[It is] really based on what the Army’s appetite and capacity is for the recommencement of sport."

He also said overseas sporting events are being discussed, adding the Army will decide "over the next couple of weeks" whether to suspend the events until the end of the year.

A number of major military sporting events, including the sellout Army vs Navy rugby union fixtures at Twickenham, were cancelled because of the pandemic.

It is expected that individual forces sports will be the first to return as they fall in line with current social distancing measures.

This year's Inter Services Football Championships was called off after just one game due to the pandemic.

Unit grassroots level sports are also believed to be some of the first likely to return.

Rich Fodgen, from the RAF Sports Federation, said: "Cycling is a great example.

"Time trialling, cycling and triathlons lend themselves to it well where you can maintain the social distancing.

"I think we are going to see the more individual disciplines early on and then we'll build and also embrace different ways of doing business to build more participation."

"There’s lots of risk assessments going on now and that's going to be part of the new normal," said Commander Steve Shaw from Royal Navy sport.

"People will actually really get used to doing them properly.

"We are there to give the right advice and ensure that the sport and whatever activity people want to come up with gets off on a safe manner."

Colonel Bede Grossmith, secretary of the UKAF Sport Control Board, said it has been a "very difficult" period for military sport.