Badminton England has joined 10 other Olympic sports to call for a new approach to the investment into Olympic and Paralympic sport.
Despite exceeding its medal target at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, when Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge became the first British players to win an Olympic Men’s Doubles medal, UK Sport stripped badminton of its entire investment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Now eleven non-funded sports have come together and believe that while the existing approach to National Lottery funding of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic sports has been successful in winning medals, it has disenfranchised many of the country’s elite sportsmen and women, creating a two-class system that runs counter to Olympic ideals.
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive at Badminton England said: “We have seen a medal winning programme thrown under the bus. We have seen athletes with recognised medal potential, created by Lottery funding, completely abandoned by the system.
"It is scandalous and we believe the time is right for change."
“We welcome the appointment of Dame Katherine Grainger as the new Chair of UK Sport and believe this presents an ideal opportunity for her to conduct an urgent and thorough review of the funding agency’s objectives for Tokyo 2020 and the Games that follow.
"At the heart of a revised purpose should be a celebration of Olympism and Paralympism as ends in themselves.
The governing bodies believe that UK Sport should adopt a revised investment model that embraces EVERY Olympic and Paralympic sport, with a tiered support structure:
- EVERY sport to receive a base level of funding for support for athletes and to include a coach, programme manager and a core competition programme
- GOLD sports to receive full investment where medal success is very likely
- SILVER sports to receive support if there is a recognised medal opportunity
- BRONZE sports to receive a baseline investment to enable a reasonable level of programme management so that talent can be developed and nurtured for future medal potential
Christy added: “We, the governing bodies of the affected sports, have now come together to call for a new approach to the investment into Olympic and Paralympic sport.
"In the first instance, we call on Dame Katherine to recognise the dangers inherent in the current direction of travel, and to enter into debate with governing bodies about the basis on which National Lottery funding should now be allocated to sports.
“We urge UK Sport to recognise that medal targets alone should not be the sole criteria for its funding, that it has a responsibility to ensure that all Olympic and Paralympic athletes are encouraged to achieve their potential and that a system of development opportunities should be put into place.
“If we were a football club, relegated from the Premier League, a parachute payment system is in place to help us bounce back. That doesn’t happen in Olympic and Paralympic sport – we are simply thrown over the edge; what a dreadful waste of public money invested to date and a huge waste of some incredible talent.”
At London 2012, UK Sport initially funded 18 out of a total of 26 Olympic sports (70%). In 2016, out of 28 Olympic sports, UK Sport funded 18 (64%).
For Tokyo, they will fund 16 sports out of 33 (48%). Where will this approach end?
Christy added: “We are not asking for a penny to be removed from funded sports; we believe that this new approach is readily affordable from economies within UK Sport’s existing support costs such as international influence strategies, major events programmes and from the growing budgets allocated to the English Institute of Sport.
“We are also very aware of the pressures on Government budgets and as such believe that sports should aim to contribute by raising funds from their own sources where feasible.”
The governing bodies have contacted Dame Katherine Grainger and would welcome the opportunity to work with her and her team to assist them in identifying the cost savings that would enable the implementation of a revised system that will truly make the nation proud.
It is not too late to make a difference in Tokyo 2020 and beyond, but time is pressing and debate must begin now.