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Government launches UK decade of sport

By Pete Hayman    06 Jan 2009

Britain will enter a "golden decade of sport" in 2009 according to culture secretary Andy Burnham, as the UK prepares to host a number of major sporting events over the next ten years.

Burnham said that a decade of investment has set up a prosperous future for British sport, and has called upon everyone to get involved as a player, coach or volunteer. As part of the government's commitment to increasing participation in sport ahead of the London 2012 Olympics in three years time, this year will see the introduction of free swimming for under-16s and over-65s in England, as well as offering schoolchildren the chance to do five hours of sport a week.

Burnham said: "2008 was the year when people around the world noticed that Britain was back in business in sport. It has been the best year for British sport in living memory and the Queen's New Year Honours list rightly reflects the achievements of our star performers. "There are three key elements to achieving sporting success. These are getting the grassroots in shape, international elite success and hosting major events. For the first time in a generation we have all three elements in alignment."

Britain is set to host nine key sporting events in 2009, including the ICC World Cricket Twenty20 tournament, the World Modern Pentathlon Championships and the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. In addition to events scheduled to be held this year, the Women's Rugby World Cup, the European Water Ski Championships and the Badminton World Championships are set to take place in Britain ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

The 2013 Rugby Union World Cup, 2015 Rugby League World Cup and 2018 Football World Cup have been included in the extensive list of sporting events taking place as part of the UK's decade of sport, although all three events are currently at the bidding stage.

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