Brexit and the Olympics: Team GB medal haul could be damaged by no deal

Ben Rumsby
The Telegraph
Leaving the EU without a deal could have a negative effect on Britain's Olympic medal hopes - PA
Leaving the EU without a deal could have a negative effect on Britain's Olympic medal hopes - PA

A no-deal Brexit could spark a slump in the number of medals won by Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic teams, the umbrella body for sport and recreation in the UK has warned.

Crashing out of the European Union on October 31 or beyond would also threaten participation in sport in this country, according to the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

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The SRA, which lobbies the Government on behalf of the sector, told Telegraph Sport it feared a no-deal Brexit would damage the UK’s economy so severely that cuts for both elite funding body UK Sport and its grassroots counterparts could soon follow.

“Most forecasts suggest no deal will have a serious impact on the UK economy and therefore public finances, which carries a real risk for sports funding at both elite and grassroots level,” said the SRA’s head of policy, Leigh Thompson.

“At the elite level, we know that the success of our sporting heroes at major events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games is important in inspiring the next generation to become physically active. Any reduction in funding is likely to be reflected in the medal tables.

“Even more worrying is that a reduction in funding at the top level is likely to be mirrored for grassroots participants, where vital investment by national governing bodies, Sport England and local authorities to get people to be active in their local communities could be hit.

“At a time when children’s inactivity levels are so concerning that the current Prime Minister publicly declared he would make sport and physical activity a ‘key pillar’ of his Government’s programme, any reduction in central and local government funding for sport would completely undermine this aim.

<span>A no-deal Brexit could have severe implications for sport in the UK</span> <span>Credit: rex </span>
A no-deal Brexit could have severe implications for sport in the UK Credit: rex

“As the Sport and Recreation Alliance has consistently called for, Government must commit to long-term investment in sport and recreation beyond Brexit. To do otherwise would be both short-sighted and counter-productive.”

Responding to the SRA warning, a Government spokesperson said: “We fully recognise the importance of sport to our health, economy and global reputation and are completely committed to supporting the sector after Brexit.

“Over £1.5 billion of government and National Lottery money is being invested in grassroots and elite sport between 2017 and 2021 and sustained investment has transformed Britain into an Olympic and Paralympic powerhouse.”

As well as fears over the risk of cuts, the Government has also been warned a no-deal Brexit could cause the break-up of the UK, and therefore Team GB.

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