THE WELSH SPORTS ASSOCIATION (WSA) has expressed strong disagreement with parts of Mark Drakeford’s latest announcement about easing lockdown restrictions.

The First Minister delivered his statement on Thursday, April 1.

The WSA attacked the roadmap out of lockdown for putting off restarting outdoor sporting activities until after outdoor hospitality can open.

The WSA’s Chief Executive Victoria Ward said: “We can’t pretend we’re not puzzled by the timetable.

“The First Minister and Health Minister have repeatedly warned about the link between alcohol consumption and increased transmission of the virus.

“Given this, we do not understand the return date for outdoor activity for adults, including organised sport, coming behind a limited reopening of outdoor hospitality.”

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“This leaves us in the extraordinary position that any sports club with an outdoor bar area will be able to host members and guests for drinks before it will be able to host a socially distant game of cricket or bowls.

“Sport and exercise are key for a healthy recovery from the pandemic, and we can’t understand the logic of this decision.”

Ms Ward said the Welsh Government decision ‘perplexed’ the WSA: “We are hugely disappointed at the news about Wales’ path out of lockdown.

“We really wanted to see Welsh Government emphasise the importance of physical activity as we unlock society.

“A timetable for the reopening of sport and leisure allows us to put in place firm plans. However, the announced dates are later than we and our colleagues had hoped and anticipated.

“Our sector has consistently proved our ability to adapt and respond to the pandemic and put in place the measures required to operate safely. This doesn’t seem to have been reflected in the Welsh Government’s decision.

“We urge them to reconsider the timetable.”

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“Indoor facilities will also be opening later than we’d hoped. This will have a disproportionate impact on groups that are dependent on these venues for participation.

“Evidence suggests that women and girls, disabled people and those from BAME backgrounds are much more likely to participate indoors, and their return will now be much later than we’d hoped.

“This, coupled with the evidence that the First Minister has received from his own officials at Public Health Wales, that visiting ‘facilities such as…gyms and leisure centre also did not appear to increase risk of infection’ leaves us wondering how the Government made these decisions.”

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Cricket Wales, which faces yet further disruption to the coming season, said: ‘As a naturally socially-distanced, outdoor, summer sport, we feel we have clearly demonstrated that Cricket is an extremely low-risk activity’.

“The organisation’s Chief Executive, Leshia Hawkins, said: “While we have been left extremely frustrated and deflated by the news today, Cricket in Wales has demonstrated time and again over the last year its resilience, agility and commitment to getting the game on safely – and the next few weeks will be no different, I’m sure.

“We have already begun the process of proactively engaging with league administrators in Wales and England and with our clubs to work through the implications of today’s news and to ensure minimal or no loss of competitive cricket for adults in the short-term.

“I want to assure the Welsh Cricket Family that we will get through this latest bump in the road together, and we will come back stronger.”