GBWR believes every sport matters and call for a new approach to Investment into Olympic and Paralympic sport

GBWR has joined 10 other sports to call for a new approach to the investment into Olympic and Paralympic sport.

As has been widely reported, UK Sport stripped wheelchair rugby of its entire investment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games even though it acknowledged that GB had medal potential, but arguing that there was ‘not enough money to go around’.

The non-funded sports have now come together and believe that while the existing approach to National Lottery funding of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic sports has been successful in winning medals, it has disenfranchised many of the country’s elite sportsmen and women, creating a two-class system that runs counter to Olympic and Paralympic ideals.

At London 2012, UK Sport initially funded 18 of out of a total of 26 Olympic sports (70%). In 2016, out of 28 Olympic sports, UK Sport funded 18 (64%). For Tokyo, they will fund 16 sports out of 33 (48%). Where will this approach end?

David Pond, Chief Executive at GBWR says “It is not right that a whole group of athletes have been disenfranchised by this ugly decision. It represents a betrayal of the declared London 2012 legacy and creates a system of ‘have and have nots’ just at a time when sport could have an even greater role in promoting social cohesion. Ultimately this is taxpayer and lottery funding and I just do not believe the public support the removal of all funding in this way’.

“We welcome the appointment of Dame Katherine Grainger as the new Chair of UK Sport and believe this presents an ideal opportunity for her to conduct an urgent and thorough review of the funding agency’s objectives for Tokyo 2020 and the Games that follow. At the heart of a revised purpose should be a celebration of Olympism and Paralympism as ends in themselves.

“We, the governing bodies of the affected sports, have now come together to call for a new approach to the investment into Olympic and Paralympic sport. In the first instance, we call on Dame Katherine to recognise the dangers inherent in the current direction of travel, and to enter into debate with governing bodies about the basis on which National Lottery funding should now be allocated to sports.

“We urge UK Sport to recognise that medal targets alone should not be the sole criteria for it’s funding, that it has a responsibility to ensure that all Olympic and Paralympic athletes are encouraged to achieve their potential and that a system of development opportunities should be put into place. Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby

“If we were a football club, relegated from the Premier League, a parachute payment system is in place to help us bounce back. That doesn’t happen in Olympic and Paralympic sport – we are simply thrown over the edge; what a dreadful waste of public money invested to date and a huge waste of some incredible talent.”

The Governing Bodies believe that UK Sport should adopt a revised investment model that embraces EVERY Olympic and Paralympic sport, with a tiered support structure:

EVERY sport to receive a base level of funding for support for athletes and to include a coach, programme manager and a core competition programme

GOLD sports to receive full investment where medal success is very likely

SILVER sports to receive support if there is a recognised medal opportunity

BRONZE sports to receive a baseline investment to enable a reasonable level of programme management so that talent can be developed and nurtured for future medal potential

The group is not asking for a penny to be removed from funded sports but believes that this new approach is readily affordable from economies within UK Sport’s existing support costs such as international influence strategies, major events programmes and from the growing budgets allocated to the English Institute of Sport.

“We are also very aware of the pressures on Government budgets and as such believe that sports should aim to contribute by raising funds from their own sources where feasible.”

The Governing Bodies have contacted Dame Katherine Grainger and would welcome the opportunity to work with her and her team to assist them in identifying the cost savings that would enable the implementation of a revised system that will truly make the nation proud.

It is not too late to make a difference in Tokyo 2020 and beyond, but time is pressing and debate must begin now. Every Sport Matters.