Allowing individual athletes such as Adam Peaty to begin training again in high-performance centres will be the first step towards reopening British sport, it was agreed on Friday.
But as reported by the Guardian this week, any decision to give the green light to resume elite sport will be not made until at least 7 May when the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is due to announce a timetable towards easing Britain’s lockdown status.
The major sports that attended the meeting – including football, cricket, horse racing, rugby union and UK Sport – were also reminded by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, that elite sport would return only when it was deemed absolutely safe to do so.
A DCMS spokesperson said: “We held an initial, constructive meeting with medical representatives from a number of professional and elite sports bodies, government and PHE to step up planning on what may need to be done so that athletes could return to training, when it is deemed safe to do so.
“This would be ahead of any return to competitive top-level sport which would only happen when medical experts advise that this can be done safely. Discussions with the sports bodies will continue on this.”
Most of the meeting, which lasted just over an hour, was focused on proposals from a working group led by the UK Sport chief executive, Sally Munday, which has been tasked with determining the steps needed to make it safe for athletes to return to training.
One person with knowledge of the meeting said that Munday had reflected the views of several national governing bodies, Olympic and Paralympic groups and sports medical experts, and the primary focus of the discussions was on agreeing “sensible steps towards a timetable to get sport reopening again”.
The first step, the source added, was on opening high-performance training centres for individual sports and athletes such as Peaty.
However it was accepted by all parties that loosening the rules for sport would not happen in isolation from the rest of society – and that it was also important to get the sequencing right in the coming weeks and months.
More meetings are planned, although the Guardian understands that a date for the next one has not yet been put in the diary.