THE COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a deterrent for participation in organised sport, according to findings from Sport Australia's AusPlay and Community Perceptions Monitor surveys.
However, the pandemic has driven up rates of participation in socially-distanced sports and recreational activities.
According to Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton, while the pandemic had resulted in a dip in participation for some sports, there had been a rise in others.
"While men drove the increases in golf, tennis, and mountain biking, women contributed more than men to the increases in walking, running, bush walking, swimming and yoga participation," Mr Dalton said.
"Sports like golf and tennis, which were not as affected by lockdowns and restrictions have seen significant increases in overall participation over the past 12 months."
An estimated 253,000 more Australian adults participated in golf in 2020 compared with 2019, while 185,000 more participants played tennis.
Mr Dalton said the research found 80 per cent of adults and children who played organised sport before COVID-19 had returned to at least one of their sports by March 2021.
However, restrictions on junior sport had resulted in the percentage of children who played organised sport outside of school at least once a week dropping from 55 in 2019 to 43 per cent in 2020.
"We know sport and physical activity is vital to the overall development of children and that's why our Sporting Schools program is so important," Mr Dalton said.
"It gives every Australian child the opportunity to get active and engaged through sport."
Mr Dalton said AusPlay continued to be an important way to track how Australians engage with sport and physical activity, while the Community Perceptions Monitor survey captures public attitudes towards various aspects of sport.
The latest findings follow Sport Australia's Early impact of COVID-19 on sport and physical activity participation report published in October last year.