UK Sport has rejected appeals against its recent decision to withdraw funding from Olympics sports basketball, women’s water polo, and synchronized swimming. The funding body also stood firm on its decision of cutting all funds from Paralympics sports goalball, visually-impaired football, and wheelchair fencing.
The decisions on zero funding were confirmed by UK Sport chairman Rod Carr who added that announcement may be unpopular in some quarters. The funding body however changed its decision about women’s weightlifting and decided to reinstate funding worth £894,000 in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics, while badminton was awarded an extra £250,000. UK Sport will strategically invest around £350million of National Lottery and Exchequer funds into preparing the best athletes of Great Britain for Rio 2016. Carr however remarked that sports that are not at the level of developing their most talented athletes would still receive public funding driving from bodies such as Sport England.
Carr remarked the recent outstanding successes at the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games demonstrated once again that investing the right money, in the right athletes, for the right reasons, is a winning formula. He also said the starting point for UK Sport and the Board is that we want to be able to invest in as many Olympic and Paralympic sports as possible but they must be able to credibly demonstrate medal-winning potential within eight years. Carr added that weightlifting came back to us with a compelling new strategy focused on developing their most talented female athletes with a view to challenging for medals by Tokyo 2020.
Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said this is a very significant point on our journey to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 and added the high level goal of winning more Olympic and Paralympic medals at the next Summer Games is very challenging. Nicholl added that we know that if we continue to focus our energy and resources we can deliver our commitment to Government, build on that success in London, and make this nation proud again.
The Chief Executive of UK Sport added that she would like to thank all the sports that engaged with us so openly through this Annual Review and added that while there is a clear understanding now that our investment is based on merit and must be aligned behind our best medal prospects, it doesn’t make the decisions any easier and she recognizes it is a difficult time for the sports and athletes who have been withdrawn from funding.
She went on to remark that to continue funding sports where the evidence is telling us they cannot win a medal by 2020 would be a high risk strategy that compromises opportunities elsewhere. The UK Sport chief executive also said that it is testament to the strength of our high performance system that 36 sports have been identified through this process as being capable of winning medals within the next two Summer Olympic and Paralympic cycles and it is UK Sport's job to do everything it can to ensure they get all the support necessary to achieve that goal.