Gender balance, but also a main ally, is revealed by the BBC Sports Personality Awards

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Remark Statement

We will usually look back at this time of year and enjoy the great variety of sports offered during the year. But this was not a typical year for nearly all sports.

Early on, after we had learned a little more about Covid-19’s virulence, some tough decisions had to be taken. Big tournaments were the first to be affected by cancellations, from the Olympics to the Euros, and it was the best decision that could be taken given the logistics of such a major event.

And there was the effect on the athletes of the virus. Isolation could also force them out of the game if they managed not to get infected, and then there were the travel limitations that stopped teams from traveling through levels.

I was a little shocked to see that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year was taking place with that in mind, but not too surprised to see that the lineup consisted of five male contestants and only one woman, Hollie Doyle, the jockey.

I’m not going to rail at the BBC for once and whine about the bad women’s representation in this selection. The question was a lot broader than that. I believe one of the pandemic’s casualties was that elite female athletes and their sports were not regarded as “important” by and large, and the emphasis was on elite male sports. It took some time, however, for women to rejoin the fray.

Lewis Hamilton, the recipient, was the bright light that shone at the awards ceremony. I had developed an opinion about him which, with his acceptance speech, was reversed. You create an impression of someone based on the sound bites you hear on television and the stories you read on social media, but in sports, Hamilton specifically called for reform, diversity and gender equality, and that speaks volumes about this guy. He’s probably a male ally.

It’s been a long year for most people, and as it draws to a close, my hope is that by spring 2021 at the latest, we can definitely enjoy participating in and watching sports without the interruptions that have plagued us due to the changing restrictions. So bring back the sport for 2021, let’s come together as friends to watch, participate and have fun, all things that were in short supply for most of 2020.

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