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Published 17 marzo 2021
On 9th and 10th of March a Parliamentary select committee, launched by the Department of Digital, Cultural, Media and Sports, examined scientific evidence for links between head trauma and dementia within sports and how such risks could be mitigated. The remit of the inquiry is not confined to a particular sport but across all sports where such risks may exist. The inquiry initially heard from various medical experts, players and sports governing bodies.
Whilst the inquiry did not consider material involving any ongoing legal proceedings it did consider potential implications of the outcome of any legal action and what impact that could have on sports as a whole in the longer term.
On the first day the committee heard from:
Professor Stewart has acted as adviser to World Rugby and The FA on concussion injuries and conducted the FIELD study commissioned by the PFA in 2019. The study looked into lifelong health outcomes of former professional footballers.
Professor Ritchie, a Neurodegenerative disease specialist, has conducted studies about the incidence of disease among professional participants and how such risks might be mitigated, in particular for younger people involved in sport.
On the second day the committee heard from individual players and representatives of various sports governing bodies.
Overall the two day inquiry touched upon a number of topics which were raised and discussed. Written submissions have been invited and due at the end of the month. The importance of further research and development, education, use of advances in science and technology and the collaboration of all stake holders in all sports were touched upon. The overall task of attempting to protect participants in a sporting context (which in itself carries inherent risks) and balancing those risks to an environment where participants can continue to play and compete at all levels in a safe environment as possible is a difficult one. What is clear is that one size does not fit all.
Such balance will need to be made within the rules and regulations of the particular sport with National Governing Bodies playing a key role, but equally and, importantly, must protect the integrity and competitiveness of the sport concerned and all individuals and associated organizations involved in the process. The outcome of the inquiry is now awaited and the implications of any outcome will no doubt be far and wide reaching.
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