Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty is among those to criticise the British Government for failing to include a return to indoor sporting activities in the latest relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced the relaxation of a number of restrictive measures put in place during the pandemic, with pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers set to open in England from July 4.
He did not set a timeline for the reopening of indoor sport facilities, however, provoking criticism from athletes and governing bodies alike.
"Please Boris Johnson, give us a reason why pools will be one of the last things to open," said Peaty on Twitter.
The 25-year-old, who earned Olympic gold in the 100 metres breaststroke at Rio 2016, is able to train in a pool as an elite athlete but has voiced his concern on behalf of recreational swimmers.
This concern is shared by Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson, with the organisation immediately launching the #OpenOurPools campaign to urge the Government to reconsider their decision.
"By ignoring the swimming sector in the latest easing of lockdown, the Government has let down millions who rely on being in the water," Nickerson said.
"Many will fail to understand how pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and hair salons have been given the go ahead to open on July 4 but not chlorine-filled swimming pools.
"I share their frustrations and demand that the Government hastily reconsiders this decision to ignore what is a lifeline to so many."
The decision has impacted a number of other indoor sports, including badminton, gymnastics and netball.
Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy called it a "mystifying decision", while British Gymnastics claimed the Government was "massively letting the sports community down."
Sport England chair Nick Bitel said he was "disappointed" by the delay in the reopening of facilities, but that the organisation would continue to work with the Government to ensure a date is decided on.
"We understand that difficult choices need to be made as the country exits lockdown, and while it is disappointing for the sector that no specific date has been given for the reopening of facilities today, we will continue to work closely with the Government to ensure this happens as soon as possible, ideally within the coming weeks, an ambition we know is shared by Government," he said.
"These facilities are vital for the health of the nation, with almost 13 million people in England using private and public gyms and leisure centres alone to get active, and these are typically the core venues for indoor community sports such as badminton and basketball – as well as of course the millions of people who go swimming each week.
"It’s important that the Government continues to engage with the sector to get these facilities open, not just because activity levels will clearly become a vital public health intervention in the new coronavirus era, but also because the longer they stay closed, the greater the danger to their ability to survive financially."
Following Johnson's announcement on restrictions, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden revealed a potential timeline for the reopening of sport facilities on Twitter.
"Many people are keen to hit the gym and keeping Britain fit is key in coronavirus battle," he said.
"We’ve made lots of progress and I know steps businesses have taken to make their spaces and equipment safe.
"Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July."