A number of Great Britain’s most successful Olympic sports face funding cuts for the Paris 2024 cycle as UK Sport plans a broader, longer-term approach to winning medals in the future.
The elite sports funding body has secured an increased settlement of £352m which will be split between a greater number of sports – 43 in total. That compares to £345m split between 32 sports for the Tokyo cycle.
That means money for emerging sports, such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding – which will all feature at the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo next summer – via a progression fund. In total, seven sports will share
a £10.3m funding pot.
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An additional new fund worth £3m will be open to applications from other sports such as breakdancing, which is set to feature at the Olympics in Paris for the first time and did not apply for progression funding.
However, some of the most successful sports for Great Britain have lost out for Paris. Rowing funding has been cut by almost 10 per cent, to £22,212,008, as has swimming (11.4 per cent), equestrian (11.6 per cent), modern pentathlon (20 per cent), sailing (4 per cent) and athletics (3.6 per cent).
Cycling’s Olympic funding is up more than 12 per cent to £27.6m, while badminton and archery have both received big increases.
Gymnastics – a sport which is subject to the ongoing Whyte Review into allegations of bullying by coaches – has suffered a 6.7 per cent decrease.
UK Sport said funding commitments for the extended Tokyo cycle would not be affected, allowing athletes to continue planning for next summer’s Games.
On the decision to cut funding for a number of Olympic sports, UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday said: “These are pretty tough times in terms of the financial envelope that is available to us and we have looked across the piece,
we’ve wanted to reach more sports than we’ve ever been able to before and as a result we have had to make some pretty tough decisions.
“I believe that the sports that have been consistently successful will continue to be successful with the funding that they have received.”
On cycling’s increase, Munday said: “In this (Tokyo) cycle they have brought a considerable amount of their own money to their programme, a huge sum of money. They don’t have that money in the way that they did (for the next cycle).
“So despite the fact that we are giving them an uplift, it is a downturn for them in terms of what they can invest in their programme.”
Paralympic sports are set to receive an overall increase in world class programme funding from £55.5m in the Tokyo cycle to £61.8m for Paris.
Munday spoke last month about the future focus being on winning the right way rather than a ‘no compromise’ approach to winning medals and revealed any sports which fail to take a zero tolerance approach to ‘bad people’ within their
programmes could face cuts.
“Bad people exist in every walk of life, bad people will try and infiltrate and be part of our system,” she said.
“We don’t want them, and we want the whole of the system to be very very clear that they are not welcome.
“We will be asking everyone in the system to be working with us to get rid of people and make it very clear to people that they are not welcome in our system if they are not going to behave in a way that aligns with Olympic and Paralympic values.
“We are very very clear about that, and if that requires us to remove money from sports, that is what we will do.”
Andy Anson, CEO of the British Olympic Association, said: “Overall, the investment news and the continued support of Government is incredibly positive in light of the economic conditions.
“Sally Munday and her team at UK Sport deserve great credit for their handling of this difficult period and we are appreciative of their efforts and the work of the National Governing Bodies to achieve this settlement.
“I am in no doubt that Olympic sport will demonstrate its value to the nation in 2021 and well beyond.”
There has been some disappointment expressed by sports who have had funding cut.
“We remain incredibly thankful for the ongoing commitment to elite sport in this country and we welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides us in relation to our ability to properly prepare for Tokyo later this year,” Pentathlon GB CEO Sara Heath said in a statement.
“However, we are understandably disappointed with the outcome of the funding decision for Modern Pentathlon in relation to the 2021-2025 funding cycle.
“We recognise that, particularly in the current climate, funding of this nature has to be carefully considered against a number of factors and that difficult decisions have to be made, but today’s decision has left us perplexed about the lack of parity there seems to be across the sports receiving this crucial funding.
“We will be urgently seeking further understanding about how this decision has been made before we decide on what next steps need to be taken to ensure the continued success of our programme and athletes.”