UK government launches new enquiry into long-term impact of head injuries in sport


FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, February 24, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK government on Wednesday announced the launch of an enquiry into the long-term effects of head injuries in sport and will discuss the latest scientific studies with governing bodies and athletes across two sessions starting next week.

The Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee (DCMS) will examine links between concussion and dementia and efforts to improve player welfare in professional sports, with the first session taking place on March 9.

The committee will also take evidence on the implications for youth sport and funding requirements for further scientific research.

"We will look particularly at what role national governing bodies should be taking and their responsibilities to understand risks involved for players and what actions might be taken to mitigate them," Julian Knight, chair of the DCMS committee, said in a statement.

"We're seeing a number of cases involving brain injury in sport likely to reach the doors of our law courts and we will also look at the implications for sport in the longer term of any successful legal claim."

In January, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston led roundtable meetings with athletes and campaigners for research into concussion-related injuries.

Concussions and their long-term effects have been in the spotlight since former players filed a class-action lawsuit against governing bodies World Rugby, England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) which alleges a failure to protect them from the risks.

Many have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, early onset dementia, depression or symptoms and signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

In a joint statement in December, World Rugby, the RFU and the WRU said they take player safety very seriously.

"Rugby is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, rugby takes player welfare extremely seriously and it continues to be our number one priority."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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