Bridge 'not a sport' says Britain's High Court

The English Bridge Union has lost its appeal to have the card game recognised as a sport in England.
The English Bridge Union has lost its appeal to have the card game recognised as a sport in England.PHOTO: ST FILE

LONDON (AFP) - Bridge players discovered on Thursday (Oct 15) that they have lost a battle at Britain's High Court to have their pastime recognised as a sport.

The English Bridge Union (EBU) took legal action after funding body Sport England ruled that bridge was not a sport because it does not involve "physical activity".

But judge Ian Dove ruled that Sport England , whose lawyers had described bridge in court as no more a sport than "sitting at home, reading a book", had been acting within the law, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The judge said he had not been asked to answer the "broad, somewhat philosophical question" as to whether the activity was in fact a sport.

Lawyers acting for the EBU had argued that chess is recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee and that both chess and bridge were invited to apply for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Games although both failed to make the final shortlist.

EBU communications official Peter Stockdale was quoted by the Guardian as saying the union was "obviously disappointed" at the judgment.

Bridge, he said, had "many of the attributions of playing sport … You are exercising yourself very intensely, albeit mentally".

Ian Payn, EBU vice-chairman, added: "This very old-fashioned definition of sport means that Sport England is unlikely ever to recognise bridge as a sport.

"Unfortunately ... Dove has found for Sport England. His decision affects participants in many sports other than bridge. We are very disappointed."

Bridge, also known as contract bridge, is a "trick-taking" game involving four players in two competing partnerships and is one of the world's most popular card games.

Alex Peebles, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said the EBU was reviewing "potential options for a possible appeal".