May 8, 2020 / 5:18 PM / 18 days ago

Athletics: Coe says children will need more sport in post-pandemic world

FILE PHOTO: Sep 26, 2019; Doha, Qatar; IAAF president Sebastian Coe speaks at a press conference prior to the IAAF World Athletics Championships at Khalifa International Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Children will need more access to sport in the post-pandemic world and there is a pressing need to press authorities to stop school sports “withering on the vine”, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said on Friday.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar across all disciplines and levels from school to professional.

Coe told Reuters he was planning to launch a campaign to protect the long-term future of athletics when the global lockdowns and cancellations end.

“I want our sport to be a campaigning sport and if we are not about young people and access to the sport we might as well pack up and go home,” the 63-year-old said.

“I am not going to be shy or pussy foot around this any longer. This has to be addressed and this has to be the long-term thinking when we come out of this.”

A healthier population would be better placed to weather future storms like the coronavirus outbreak, Coe added.

“We have got to hit this hard now. We have get into education departments and we can’t let politicians talk a good game about this and not deliver,” Coe said.

“The very fact that any child in the UK is 50% less likely to be active between the age of eight and nine, and 12 and 13, is wrong. It just cannot be right. Whichever way you view that, that has to be wrong,” he added.

Reporting by Iain Axon, Writing by Simon Jennings, Editing by Andrew Heavens

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