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 £352million 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.
UK Sport has set out its intent for 🇬🇧 to become successful in a wider range of sports and build a high-performance sports community which reflects the diversity of British society
— UK Sport (@uk_sport) December 18, 2020
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 (four 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).
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) December 18, 2020
“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.”
While UK Sport works on ‘winning right’, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has handed down sanctions to Russia for its manipulation of laboratory doping data which have been widely criticised as being too lenient.
The country cannot be officially represented at the next summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games or other world championships, but Russian athletes eligible to compete can include the word ‘Russia’ on their kit and even wear the colours of the Russian flag.
UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger, a rowing gold medallist at London 2012, said: “It’s not an easy verdict to hear if I’m honest. I can speak as a former athlete who’s lived through some of that Russia doping time unfortunately.
“All of us who believe in clean and fair sport would argue that people who break the law in the greatest way deserve the greatest sanctions.
“It’s obviously been an ongoing problem with Russia for a long time and we all hoped that we would see one of the greatest punishments imposed. But it’s a CAS decision.
“The biggest thing we can do is protect our own athletes, and what you don’t want it to be is an unhelpful distraction. We’ve talked about all we’re going to do in Great Britain to make sure the UK system is as clean as it can be and we need to work with our partners to keep that pressure on and realise the highest standards (globally). Personally I find it a very disappointing verdict.”