High Court To Hear Challenge Over Legal Status Of Bridge As A Sport

Lawyers Say Bridge Should Be Recognised As A Sport

22.09.2015

Sport England is facing a legal challenge in the High Court from the English Bridge Union (EBU), the organisation which governs duplicate bridge.

The Judicial Review launched by the EBU, will determine whether Sport England, the government body that distributes Lottery Funding has acted lawfully in adopting a policy that prevents it recognising sports that it does not consider to be “physical”.

The organisation has instructed specialist law firm Irwin Mitchell to represent them at the hearing.

The EBU is hoping that the Judicial Review will pave the way for Bridge and similar sports to receive the recognition that they deserve. Recognition by Sport England is important because lack of recognition impacts upon EBU’s ability to take part in European and international competitions.   

Chess has already been recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee and was demonstrated at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. It was also included in the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games and is being considered for the Pan-American games.

Organisers of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has invited both Chess and Bridge to apply for inclusion in the games, which, if accepted, will be the first time players have competed in the Olympics.

If Bridge were to be recognised as a sport in England then EBU would be able to invest in a number of projects to teach Bridge to people of all ages and to ensure that facilities are improved.

Alex Peebles, a specialist public law expert at Irwin Mitchell leading the challenge, said:

Expert Opinion
“We will argue that a sport does not need to be physical to be regarded as a sport as a matter of law.

"We hope our legal challenge will result in Sport England reconsidering its decision not to recognise Bridge as a sport, which will help the EBU to access the essential support they need to continue growing and attracting new players.”
Alex Peebles, Solicitor

Jeremy Dhondy, Chairman of the English Bridge Union Limited and international bridge player, said: “We hope that this hearing will allow bridge to be recognised in the way that it should.”