Today: Last Update:

  • $1 Billion for U.K. Olympics Sport


    British Chancellor Gordon Brown has won praise for increasing elite sport funding leading up to the London Olympics. 
    (ATR) The British Olympic Association says it welcomes the Government's announcement that funding of elite athletes would be doubled over the next six years. The BOA has said the new funding is needed to boost British prospects at the London Olympics.

    Chancellor Gordon Brown unveiled plans in the annual budget to give $350 million in central funding to Olympic sports and raise a further $175 million through a planned private sector sponsorship of individual athletes.

    Combined with the $524 million in lottery cash which already flows annually to elite sports, this makes a $1 billion kitty to fund British sports ambitions for 2012. The BOA says it plans to enter around 750 athletes in the London Games, targeting a fourth place finish in the medals table, leapfrogging Australia.

    Brown, emboldened by the strong showing this week of Scottish athletes at the Commonwealth Games, also unveiled proposals for an Olympics Trust to run a nation-wide cultural event in 2012 and committed $10 million for schools to stage annual Olympics-themed sports days.

    These, however, will have to steer clear of using the heavily protected and highly marketable Olympics name and interlocking rings.

    The budget announcement was welcomed by the British Olympic Association (BOA) and UK Sport, the quango which distributes lottery cash to elite sports. U.K. Sport's funding proposal titled "A Sporting Chance for 2012" is said to have played a role convincing the Chancellor to up the spending on sport.

    "Whilst underpinning performance through 2012 this will provide UK Sport with the full level of funding required to aim for our ultimate goal over the next few crucial years" said UK Sport chairman Sue Campbell.

    BOA chief executive Simon Clegg said the funding would
    enable British teams to employ some of the world's best coaches.

    "The Government have listened and understood the arguments made by sport and they are to be congratulated for the commitment they have g
    The British Olympic Association plans to field its largest team ever for the 2012 Games. (ATR) 
    iven today. Speed of delivery and getting this new money to the coalface of
    sport is now the priority", says Clegg.

    However concerns remain about the ability to tap the private sector for $170 million, which is likely to be the responsibility of UK Sport and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. There is a feeling that once the London Olympics organizers sell marketing rights for a projected $1.3 billion, along with blue chip companies signing up to the BOA's recently launched adopt-a-sport scheme, there may be only slim slices of sponsorship left for the Government to find.

    "The private sector's ability to raise the $170 million extra has been restricted since the rights to the Olympic rings have been signed away to pay for the staging of the Games" notes shadow Olympic minister Hugh Robertson.

    Matthew Beard writes for the Independent newspaper in London.

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.