An open letter to Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP

The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Chair of the APPG for Events and Ben Bradley MP, Chair of the APPG for Sport have sent a joint letter to the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP expressing their concerns for both sectors.

Dear Oliver,


We are writing as chairs of our respective APPGs, Events and Sports. These crucial parts of our economy have shared concerns about recovery from Covid which we hope you will consider as a matter of urgency. You will appreciate that major events and sporting fixtures take time to plan and that there is now a real danger that we could lose another whole summer of these events.

A timetable for re-opening
We welcome the publication of a roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions but would appeal for further clarity.

It is of course good news that some venues may be able to open, and smaller events take place from 17th May. Whilst 21st June is indicated as a potential start date for larger events, this is still only conditional on the outcome of reviews and pilots. We are very keen for a firmer date to be set.

Pilot Studies
The plan for another series of pilot events, using testing measures as part of the new Events Research Programme, could help speed up the return of live events and spectator sport of all kinds.

However, we are concerned that these are not scheduled to take place until mid April, and therefore we would urge you to consider to bring forward these pilots so greater certainty can be provided to the sports and events industries as soon as possible.

We would appeal to you to ensure that data from previous pilot studies from November should be taken into account in this new programme.

The new set of pilots need to focus on a risk based solution that is dependent on the situation; venue, audience numbers, and type of event. Any new requirements in relation to proof of a test or a vaccination need to be proportionate, operationally feasible, affordable and consistent with protection of individual privacy.

If proof of a negative test is to become a means of reviving larger scale events and fixtures, this will create very big logistical challenges than need to be considered as soon as possible;

  • How would testing hundreds of thousands of people work?
  • What would be the waiting time for results?
  • How will impersonation problems be tackled (i.e. how do ensure that we have the right person with the right test)?
  • How is it proposed to get the necessary technology approved in in place in time for re-opening in May or June?
  • Who will pay for mass testing?

We would urge Ministers to conclude the review on testing and vaccination passports as soon as possible.

Events and sporting festivals supporting our high streets
Our town centres were struggling even before Covid. The pandemic has hit them hard. The events and sports industries could perform a really positive role in rejuvenating and levelling up our town centres and bringing people back to their local high streets. This is a further reason why the matters raised in this letter need to be urgently considered so the two industries, events and sport, can play their full part in the economic recovery from Covid which we need to deliver.

We very much hope you will be able to give serious consideration to the matters we have raised.

Yours sincerely,


Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP

Chair of the APPG for Events


Ben Bradley MP

Chair of the APPG for Sport