Sport England reports that the benefits of hosting the Olympics are still being felt

Last Updated: 18/12/13 3:56pm

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Sport England's latest figures on participation have shown that they have started to level off over a year after the Olympic games

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Around 15.5 million people are regularly playing sport in England at the moment, as the nation continues to reap the benefits of the London Olympics.

Sport England have released the results of the Active People Survey, which covers the period between October 2012 and October 2013, and which shows that more than 1.5m more people play sport since London won the right to host the games.

Sky Sports reporter Amy Lewis said: "A year ago there was a massive spike in participation following the Olympic Games but that seems to have levelled off.

"A year ago we were reporting a record increase of 750,000 in the number of us playing sport once a week.

"Six months ago it dropped off by 220,000 but Sport England blamed that on the weather. Today we are seeing an increase of around that 220,000 figure. Effectively, we are where we were a year ago.

"There has been a lot of criticism of the Olympic legacy but Sport England's response is that more people are playing sport now than at any time before the Games."

There is slight concern that the numbers of people aged between 16 and 25 who participate in sport has declined slightly.

Sustained increase

A Sport England statement read: "We are the first host nation to have delivered a sustained increase in the number of people playing sport after the Games.

"Today's data shows the continuing positive impact of London 2012 on people's sporting habits."

The statement pointed out that record numbers of disabled people (1.67m) and people of BME (black and minority ethnic) origin (2.7m) are now taking part in sport.

And the highest recorded number of people aged 26 and over are now playing sport at least once a week.

But the statement also said: "Over the last year the strongest growth has come from individual sports such as cycling.

"More traditional sports such as football, netball and cricket have seen dips in participation, particularly for 16-25 year olds."

Football and netball suffer drop

Reacting to the figures, Sport England's chief executive Jennie Price said: "This shows that more people are continuing to play sport and the growth we saw in 2012 was not just a post-Olympic bounce.

"I am particularly pleased to see record numbers of disabled people playing sport, which is a real testament both to the impact of the Paralympics and our increased investment in the grassroots.

"We are concerned about the results for young people. Although the majority of 16-25 year olds still play sport regularly, the numbers are not going up.

"The evidence shows a sharp drop in the popularity of traditional sports like football and netball, and we need to make sure they have a wider range of sporting activities to choose from."

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