A “collective voice” of sporting heroes have come together to ask the prime minister for full support to help sports and exercise facilities survive the pandemic.

The letter, seen by the BBC, is believed to have been signed by elite athletes Colin Jackson, David Weir, Jonnie Peacock, Beth Tweddle and Keri-Anne Payne.

Celebrities Davina McCall, David Walliams, Mel Chisholm and Zoe Ball have also put their names to the document which states they are “deeply concerned” about the risk of swimming pools, gyms and leisure centres facing permanent closure because of the impact COVID-19 has had.

The letter to Boris Johnson said: “The threat of losing these places has brought us together as a collective voice, to hope that everything is done to ensure these essential facilities are available to support our recovery, and enhance the health of the nation.

“We know that for every pound the government spends on sport and physical activity, it gets almost four pounds in return.

“Savings into the billions on serious physical and mental health conditions, social care, and preventing an estimated 30 million GP visits a year.”

Last month an extra £50m was pledged from Sport England to grassroots sport after a “significant hit” to exercise because of the pandemic. The organisation has already invested £220m since the start of the crisis.

Last year the government announced a £100m recovery fund for public leisure facilities, but it is thought estimated losses across the sector far exceed that amount.

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