POSTED: December 3rd 2008

Hunt attacks 2012 funding

Christine Ohuruogu: won Britain's only track gold in Beijing /
Christine Ohuruogu: won Britain's only track gold in Beijing /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Andy Hunt, new chief executive of the British Olympic Association, has attacked the Government over failing to match its 2012 funding promises.

Despite the fact that 17 sports will enjoy increases, Hunt complained that a “unique opportunity” was being lost. Athletics is the only sport which won Olympic medals in Beijing to see its four-year funding cut, by £1.4m or 5pc from £26.5m to £25.1m. Other losers are shooting, table tennis, handball and fencing.

Hunt said: "It is disappointing that, despite extensive lobbying we find ourselves in the position now, just three months after Britain's most successful Games in 100 years, where the Government has failed to honour its funding promise to all our Olympic sports."

Difficult decisions

While acknowledging that funding channel UK Sport had faced difficult decisions in allocating its reduced £550m budget, Hunt added: “Those sports that have learned they face an uncertain financial future, two years of planning and investment has been thrown up in the air.

"Those sports may have fallen short of the medal rostrum in 2012 but the promised government investment would have given them the opportunity to develop their athletes' talents and resources as a whole.

“A wider base of participation is crucial to the long-term delivery of medal success and the BOA is deeply concerned that the opportunity to find the Chris Hoy of table tennis or the Rebecca Adlington of volleyball in future Olympic Games has been put in jeopardy.”

Hunt said that the national inspiration provided by Team GB in Beijing could have been multiplied for an entire generation in 2012.

Playing the legacy card, which is such a key component of the Olympic movement strategy, he added: “A legacy for sport and young people was the foundation of London's bid to host 2012 and the Government recognised this through its £600m commitment so the BOA is very disappointed it has now fallen short of that pledge.

“There are 1332 days till London hosts the Games and for some of our sports today has marked a drastic set back in their preparations."

Funding identification

UK Sport has said it will work with each sport to help identify further funding, both from private investment and from other potential sources of income.

Not every sport was a loser. Basketball, synchronised swimming, taekwondo, boxing, archery and hockey all received sizeable budget increases, with basketball securing a huge 136pc increase, up from £3.7m to £8.7m. Rowing is the best-funded Olympic sport with £27.47m over the next four years.

The funding programme was defended by Sue Campbell, chair of UK Sport.

She said: “The decisions were not easy but they were right. With a shortfall in the overall funding available we had to make some tough calls, but we did so in the knowledge that our 'no compromise' strategy is not only known and understood by sport but was also the basis of our success in Beijing.

“It is disappointing that we are unable to offer the full level of resources to all sports but we can invest only what we have available.

UK Sport's commitment

“We remain absolutely committed to all Olympic and Paralympic sports, and will do everything we can to help get them to the start line in four years time. We will not give up on anybody."

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham insisted that the Government was firm in its belief that “sport is a great thing to invest in, even in difficult economic times." But Conservative Opposition spokesman Hugh Robertson insisted the government should have honoured the original commitment of £600m.

Team GB finished fourth in the medals table in Beijing, exceeding expectations by landing 19 golds. China was top with 51 golds, followed by the United States (36) and Russia (23). At the Paralympics, Britain took 42 golds to finish second, 47 behind the hosts.

Picture (above right): triple gold-medallist Chris Hoy flying the Team GB in Beijing /

Keywords · Andy Hunt · British Olympic Association · London 2012 · Olympic Games · British athletics · Sue Campbell · UK Sport · Culture Secretary Andy Burnham · Hugh Robertson

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