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Climate Crisis: Extreme weather affecting grassroots sport, study shows

Nearly two-thirds of those who play or watch golf have experienced extreme weather associated with climate change in the past year, new figures show.

YouGov survey results show how grassroots sports have struggled to thrive in conditions such as flooding. The figures also show extreme weather has affected 40% of football players and spectators.

Chris Boardman, chairman of Sport England, said: "Climate change and sport are intrinsically connected." The former track and road cyclist added: "Whether it's flooded pitches, water quality or extreme heat, few things have such an ability to depress physical activity. "The status quo is no longer an option. We must tackle this seriously, quickly and most importantly, together."

The report published by the British Association of Sustainable Sport said rain-affected facilities with ankle-deep puddles were becoming a fixture of UK amateur sport, with ground staff struggling with rescheduling and cancellations.

The report surveyed 2,006 people, who were asked whether they had watched or taken part in grassroots sport during the past 12 months. Of those 1,059 who had taken part in either golf, football or cricket, 48% said they had been affected by bad weather associated with climate change.

Those who said they had taken part in golf, cricket or football were asked if they had experienced disruption because of weather extremes associated with climate change.

Of the golfers and golf spectators polled, some 64% said they had encountered disruption to the sport such as rescheduling, reduction in length of matches or cancellation, the report said.

In cricket, the figure stood at 60%, and World Cup winner Tammy Beaumont said: "Beyond just the loss of missed games in the immediate term, we're risking longer-term impacts on sport too.

"The more games are called off, the more likely it is that players will lose interest in playing the sport.

"If the cricket season is spent mainly watching it rain or playing on dry, poor wickets, players may leave the sport for a game they get more opportunity in - or stop sport altogether."

The report builds upon concerns raised by the Football Association, which estimates about 120,000 games are lost every season.

The findings come as the 2023-24 winter sports season has already been hit by five named storms since September, including Storm Babet. New data points to it being "virtually certain" that 2023 will be the warmest year on record.

Global average air temperatures last month were 0.4C warmer than the previous October high set in 2019, according to the EU's climate change service.

October was not quite as unusually hot as September but still set a record for the month by an "exceptional" margin, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.


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