GB Keeping London Olympics Legacy Alive; Maintain Funding, Mandatory School Sports
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that U.K. Sport will receive £500M ($785M) over the next four years to maintain funding for Olympic sports at the same level before the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games "as during the runup to London," according to Hélène Mulholland of the London GUARDIAN. The PM outlined the moves as part of government plans "to build on the legacy of the Olympics for Britain." Speaking on BBC News on Sunday, Cameron said the decision to provide £125M ($196M) every year until '16 aimed "to reward the success of the U.K.'s outstanding elite sport system" following the British team's record-breaking Medal success at the London Games. Cameron: "The motto of these Games has been 'inspire a generation.' Nothing has been more inspirational than seeing our elite athletes win Gold this summer" (GUARDIAN, 8/12). In London, Paul Kelso noted a "smaller proportion" of U.K. Sport money will come from the public purse than in the build-up to the London Games. Cameron has authorized an extra £80M ($126M) of exchequer funding to U.K. Sport to give it certainty up to the 2016 Olympics, which is less than the £60M ($94M) of public money that the Olympic team received this year. However, the proportion of funding from the National Lottery has "increased under changes to its distribution brought in by the government." Beginning next year the proportion of public funds to Lottery will be around one to two, with the taxpayer contributing £40M ($63M) and the Lottery an estimated £80-87M ($126-$137M) (TELEGRAPH, 8/12). Also in London, Martha Kelner noted U.K. Sport had only been guaranteed funding until '14. Cameron said, "I want one of the legacies of these Games to be our athletes triumphing in Rio and in future Olympics. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens." U.K. cyclist and Gold Medal winner Chris Hoy said, "I am old enough to remember a time when things were run on a shoestring. Having these guarantees will be a huge boost for all the athletes aiming to win medals at Rio and proves we are serious about building a strong legacy from London" (DAILY MAIL, 8/11).
WHAT'S NEXT?: The government said in a statement that "in the volunteering spirit of the Games," funded British athletes would be asked to offer up to five days a year of their time, for free, to inspire a generation through school sport (REUTERS, 8/12). Labour Party leader Ed Miliband wants a cross-party review of the funding system and said, "What the Games have proved is that they can inspire a country in ways you can't really put a price on." He added, "My proposal to David Cameron has been to put together a 10-year plan across all parties. Let's not make it political, let's get all the sporting bodies involved and look at how we do it" (BBC, 8/12). In London, Chris Cook noted Cameron announced it will soon be compulsory for children at local authority primary schools to take part in competitive team sport, "as he seeks to head off fears that sports provision will suffer in the wake of the London Olympic Games." Downing Street said that specific details will follow. It has, however, been said children in local authority schools would be required "to take part in competitive team sports, like football, netball and hockey, and will include team outdoor and adventurous activity" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/11). Also in London, Brian Brady noted that London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for two hours of compulsory sport a day for every pupil, while the British Olympic Association Chair Colin Moynihan warned the U.K. had been "treading water" for seven years over funding for school sports. Moynihan also said maintaining a predictable level of funding was "critical" to sustained success: "Stop-go funding is a disaster for sport. Countries that have applied that lose" (INDEPENDENT, 8/12).