English Bridge Union granted judicial review of refusal to recognise card game as a ‘sport’
, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels”.
“One can see the advantage of that,” Mr Justice Mostyn observed, “in that it would result in consistency across the continent on what is or is not a sport”.
He added: “What is to be noted about that definition is that a competitive element is not a necessary ingredient of a sport (which I find faintly surprising) but it does suggest that an essential ingredient of sport is, even if it is not competitive, that is has to embrace physical activity.”
The judge said there were a number of “strong indicators” which suggested that a sport had to have a “physical component” in order for it to satisfy Sport England’s recognition policy, but he also noted the fact that in 1999 the International Olympic Committee acknowledged that bridge and chess should be considered as “mind sports” - a fact which he considered “significant”.
In a written judgment, Mr Justice Mostyn concluded: “I do recognise, just as Haddon-Cave J did, that there are very strong arguments why Sport England was justified in refusing recognition to the English Bridge Union for bridge as a sport.
“However, I do not, like him, conclude that the matter is completely unarguable or that the case is hopeless, frivolous or vexatious. I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead for the English Bridge Union but by a very slender margin I am satisfied that the test for permission is met in this case and I grant permission.”