Following the Winter Paralympic Games a new storm is brewing in the United Kingdom. Like Olympic and Paralympic athletes in many countries, the UK’s athletes are assisted by Government funding, through the body UK Sport.
Currently crowing on the back of Paralympic success as many such organisations do UK Sport are now facing strong criticism from those sports who have been less successful as they have been cast off into the financial wilderness. No medals means no funding. In Australia we have seen, no Olympic place, no funding, as Baseball discovered when it was dropped from the Olympics, it lost its place at the Institute of Sport table when it came to scholarships.
Interestingly many of the successful athletes in the UK are of the opinion that they would be happy to take less funding if it meant other sports would improve their standing and status with the extra money. A view it appears not shared by those handing out the money.
The Shadow Minister for Sport Clive Efford was asked by The Independent newspaper if he would support those who felt a fairer system would be to rather than award increases to successful sports and athletes, to instead distribute funding to others who have little or no support. Being a Politician the answer was non-committal and extremely disappointing. “I do not think it is for politicians to try and pick and choose which sports are going to be successful and which are not at the elite end of competition. Which maybe shows just have right wing the Labour party have become, they used to be all about a fairer distribution of wealth.
This issue is in fact not unique to the UK. In Australia the government has opted now with many of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) linked scholarships to give the money allocated to the sport’s governing bodies to distribute, rather than coming through the AIS. Some athletes have been disappointed to find that their funding has as a result been cut, and allegedly not all of the funds allocated to the athletes.
Should athletes be judged case by case when it comes to funding? A hard question to answer and one we will leave to you our readers.