Tennis players have launched a petition calling for the sport to be “unlocked” following the urgings of the sport’s governing body towards the Welsh government.
The petition to allow outdoor tennis in Wales to restart had been signed by over 2,000 people by midday on Sunday.
It comes after Tennis Wales – the governing body for the sport in Wales – wrote to First Minister Mark Drakeford to ask for the current restrictions on playing tennis to be lifted.
Golf has been able to resume in Wales for over a week, but tennis, bowls and cricket training in nets – sports where social distancing would appear no more problematic than golf – remain off limits.
In England, people have been allowed to play tennis outdoors since 13 May, while in Scotland it has been allowed on a restricted basis since Friday.
The Welsh government has decided, on the public health advice given in Wales, that tennis cannot yet resume.
The lockdown measures – including those that apply to outdoor sports such as tennis – are to be reviewed again on 18 June.
Tennis Wales Seek Clarification from First Minister & Welsh Government. With tennis being played across the rest of the UK and Western Europe, we’ve written to the First Minister following the devastating decision not to allow tennis across Wales 🎾👉 https://t.co/AfseOwdPB6 pic.twitter.com/dK33BDVOFb
— @Tenniswales (@tenniswales) May 30, 2020
The statement from Tennis Wales said: “Wales is now the only country in Western Europe where tennis cannot be played due to the pandemic, and the decision not to lift restrictions this week is having a devastating impact on the sport.
The First Minister spoke to the media late on Friday, and when fielding questions from journalists suggested that golf, tennis and bowls were appropriate to be played with strict social distancing measures in place.
“However, Welsh government legislation for outdoor sport courts to be closed doesn’t allow this legally to happen for tennis facilities.
“With 1,250 tennis courts across Wales, 95% of which are outdoor in local communities, Tennis Wales and the LTA had developed and shared detailed guidance for playing tennis with Welsh Government, with a view to returning to the courts.
“The detailed guidance would allow local people to play tennis outdoors, in line with all social distancing measures, within their local community.
Simon Johnson, chief executive of Tennis Wales, said: “Following weeks of work and dialogue with the Welsh Government, we, along with the tennis community had expected to see restrictions lifted at Friday’s review.
— LeisureOpportunities (@LeisureOpps) April 29, 2019
“Tennis is being played safely, with social distancing measures across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and within England & Scotland.
“It’s a superb form of outdoor exercise. Here in Wales, the impact is devastating on volunteers, coaches and those who simply wish to exercise whilst playing locally.
“I have written to the First Minister following his comments in an interview on Friday where he himself suggested tennis, golf & bowls were all appropriate to be played with social distancing measures in place.
“Other Ministers have given us similar messages. It’s clear that tennis has been an oversight in the Welsh government’s planning, and that we should be allowed to return to play safely immediately”.