British Athletes Commission reports dramatic rise in competitors seeking support

Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
·2-min read

The number of Olympic and Paralympic athletes accessing support from the British Athletes Commission more than doubled in 2020, the representative body has announced.

It is understood there were 145 instances where the BAC offered end-to-end support for its members last year, a 140 per cent increase compared to 2019. There were 39 instances in 2018.

The figures do not include individuals supported via the BAC’s partnership with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in relation to allegations of abuse within gymnastics.

The figures come in a year in which Olympic and Paralympic athletes faced the unprecedented challenges associated with the Tokyo Games being delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BAC represents over 1,400 elite athletes on the world-class programme across more than 40 sports.

Vicki Aggar, who has been re-elected as BAC chair, said about the figures: “The rise in the number of athletes being supported by the BAC is dramatic, even compared to as recently as 2019.

“While people may look at those figures and see evidence that there are problems within the system, I see it as an enormous positive that more and more athletes are now choosing to come to us, trusting in us to provide them with the right advice, support and guidance, regardless of their issue.

“The fact that there is more awareness of the support network, more willingness among athletes to seek out help rather than to attempt to face their problems alone, and more discussion about how, culturally, we can continue to improve athlete experience, is incredibly encouraging, and the BAC being right at the forefront of this progress is a source of great pride to me.”

The BAC said 36 per cent of its casework related to welfare issues, and a further 33 per cent to selection matters. The remaining cases were split between safeguarding, commercial, classification, disciplinary and grievance.