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Watch Live - Indoor Climbing Presented to UK Government Select Committee

© Nick Brown

Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10 a.m., Rich Emerson, a director of the Association of British Climbing Walls, will be giving evidence about the indoor climbing sector to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee. The session will be available to watch live online or via replay.

The ABC will present the case for financial support for indoor climbing to the DCMS Select Committee.   © Nick Brown
The ABC will present the case for financial support for indoor climbing to the DCMS Select Committee.
© Nick Brown

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, last autumn the DCMS launched an inquiry into the financial viability of community sport and called for evidence from sporting organisations.

The Committee stated:

'The DCMS Committee wants to identify specific actions the Government can take to guarantee the future survival of the community sports sector. The Committee is looking into sports governance, funding and the case for elite professional sports to support the lower leagues and grassroots.'

The ABC responded to the inquiry with a detailed overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, participation figures and information relating to the industry and its growing market.

The total revenue for the industry in 2018 was £93M, with 1.5 million individual visitors to climbing walls making 8 million visits in total, according to the ABC. Their research in 2020 found that climbing wall business balance sheets were down between 20% and 60%, visitor numbers were reduced by between 20% and 50% and income had fallen by between 20% and 60%.

Temporary closures, capacity caps and increased management costs due to strict hygiene requirements have all led to balance sheet vulnerability. The ABC is aware of two centres that have shut down as a result of the financial impact of the pandemic.

'As an industry we believe that our future can be safeguarded with £24M of government support through VAT write off, a VAT reduction and Business Rates holiday,' the ABC's response to the DCMS reads.

'This is an opportunity to make our case for some further financial support to guarantee the long term viability of our sport - we hope the government will hear and understand the position that we and many other sports are in,' ABC director Rich Emerson told UKC. 'We also think this session a great opportunity for climbing to raise its profile, so we're keen to let people know that we're doing it.'

The Committee is expected to focus on the following topics during the session:

  • How has the industry coped during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Climbing in the Olympics
  • Safe reopening - particularly with the new variant of the virus
  • The adequacy of government support
  • How the sector can safely return to previous activity levels
  • Differences between the four Home Nations

The session will be live streamed and can be watched here.

You can find out more about the inquiry here.

You can view the full Committee membership here.


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Love the chin-nappy in the photo. Sure that's the impression we want to give? I mean... if you're going to go to the trouble of putting it on... just..... why?

In the walls I've been to (and at the wall where the image was taken) masks are to be worn when walking around the centre and between climbs and don't have to be worn during exercise on the wall. It's common to see people climbing with masks pulled down like this. Some will choose to wear them while climbing and others won't, especially as some people can't reasonably exercise with a mask on due to health conditions.

I get all that, same everywhere, but why half-wear it in an article cover photo? Health conditions that preclude wearing it I can understand, but ones that require putting it on halfway is a new development.

The photo wasn't taken specifically for this news report. It's very difficult to find imagery to suit every article and we rely on our database for illustrations. If we'd have chosen one without a mask, would we have received complaints that there was no mask/it looked 'pre-COVID'? (yep, I thought about that!)

Fair points. I wouldn't have thought to mention it if it was absent. Like you say, don't have to be worn on the wall, and it doesn't look like there's anyone else about, and I wouldn't have taken issue with that, and stock photos existed before covid. I just really struggle with the logic (in the wider world too) of chin coverings. If you've gone as far as putting it on I don't get why people stop at the point where you get none of the benefit.

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