An Overview of the Sport-Related Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children (English, Française, Español)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the lives of children around the world in a variety of domains. A total of 188 countries have closed their schools in response to the pandemic which is estimated to have resulted in over 1.5 billion children missing a significant period of education (United Nations 2020a). Further, it is estimated that an additional 42-66 million children will be in extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic (United Nations 2020a). This paper focuses on the potential impacts of COVID-19 on children associated with sport. It was compiled based on the input of 37 experts and practitioners in the fields of child rights, protection, and safeguarding in sport. In addition to facilitating an exchange of information on the topic, it brings together observations and concerns for the consideration of decision makers and others with influence over policies, resource allocations and programming related to children and sport as the world builds back from the pandemic. This includes those in sports organisations, national and local governments, inter-governmental entities, international agencies, donor agencies, civil society organisations and community based organisations.

The key impacts are discussed in four main areas: (1) on-going sport, (2) the absence of sport, (3) children in vulnerable and special situations, and (4) future impacts and concerns. The paper further considers perspectives of children, opportunities, and provides a call for action. It is important to emphasise that empirical evidence regarding potential on-going and future impacts is limited and that further investigation and research is required on a range of topics addressed in this paper.

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