Responding to the latest figures, Lisa Wainwright, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said: “With restrictions effecting school sport and community clubs over the last year, the findings in this report were unsurprising but should serve as a reminder of the importance of physical activity for our children and young people.
"We are hugely concerned at the decrease in physical literacy and the implications this could have on long-term participation. We are determined to prevent a lost generation which misses out on the benefits that come with being active.
"This includes making sure that those most affected, still have access to sport and recreation which enables them to remain active. Once again, we have seen individuals from Black and Asian backgrounds disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
"The fact remains that 2.3 million young people are still classified as not being active, doing less than 30 minutes of activity per day. Once we are able to re-open as a nation, sport and recreation needs to be more accessible for every child.
"We have witnessed a number of innovative and engaging projects from our members and the incredible school sport workforce to combat the limitations on movement of people during this pandemic, but we must continue to work on safeguarding the long-term future of physical activity for our children.
"This is why it is so important that government remain true to their word and place the unwrapping of exercise towards the top of their priority list once we are able to safely start loosening lockdown restrictions.
"It will be concerning to sports organisations up and down the country that participation in their clubs and facilities saw a huge drop in the time when facilities were open in the summer and we would ask government to help us assess the needs of these clubs as they face the prospect of a new membership year with hugely depleted renewal income.
"As an organisation we have expressed that every child should have right to be active and that we should live in a country where every child has this opportunity and is active enough to be healthy and happy.
The importance of this has never been in stronger focus, and we want physical activity to play a central role in the nation’s recovery.”
You can read the full Sport England – Active Lives Children and Young People report here.