A national study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Canada Games Council (CGC) has revealed one in three young people are unsure if they will return to sport following the safe return to play.
In partnership with IMI International, the CGC surveyed more than 2,000 Canadians aged 13 and over - including 600 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 - and asked if they planned to return to sport following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
As many as a third stated they were unsure if they would return to sport, with a fifth confirming they did not intend to return to sport after the pandemic.
A majority of young people described the restrictions on sport during COVID-19 as "sad" but "unfortunately necessary".
A total of 69 per cent of Canadians felt that sports will be essential in getting young people motivated and engaged following COVID-19, while 84 per cent of their parents believe sport has a positive impact on their child's mental health.
"The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all Canadians, but this concerning data suggests that our sport community needs to do everything we can to support the long term welfare of Canadian youth, by remaining engaged in sport," said Dan Wilcock, President and chief executive of the CGC.
"The benefits of sport are clear in developing the next generation of Canadians, but many thousands of Canadian youth appear at risk of missing out on those physical and mental benefits coming out of the pandemic.
"As we move forward, we want to support a safe and welcoming environment that motivates Canadians to experience the positive benefits of sport."
The CGC is associated with the Canada Games, a multi-sport event held every two years for amateur sport in the country.
"It is important to keep setting goals and staying active," said Catriona Le May Doan, the CGC vice-chair.
"There will be a brighter tomorrow and events like the Canada Games will be key in giving young athletes something to strive towards.
"Sport, team play and competition has been pivotal in my journey and really motivated me through the key adolescent years.
"We need to do whatever we can to spark greatness in the next generation of Canadians as they strive for excellence in sport and beyond."
The next Summer Games are set to take place from August 6 to 21, 2022, in the Niagara region.
The 2023 Canada Winter Games are set to take place on Prince Edward Island.