UK Sport Strips Olympic, Paralympic Funding For Basketball, Six Other Sports
UK Sport has announced that British Basketball "has been stripped of all Olympic funding after failing to meet its targets," according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The sport "had won a reprieve last year but neither the men's nor women's team succeeded in meeting the target of qualifying for the world championships." Funding "has also been withdrawn" from synchronized swimming, water polo and weightlifting, while a number of sports "have had their funding increased." UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said, "This is a very significant point on our journey to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. There is a clear understanding now that our investment is based on merit and must be aligned behind our best medal prospects. To continue funding sports where the evidence is telling us they cannot win a medal by 2020 would be a high risk strategy that compromises opportunities elsewhere" (PA, 2/4).
PERCEIVED BIAS: In London, Ben Rumsby reported like last year, basketball "will be offered the opportunity to earn a reprieve when UK Sport invites it to make representations in the coming weeks." British Basketball claimed UK Sport's system has a "bias" against team sports and that the decision will leave everyone involved in the sport "aghast." British Basketball Performance Chair Roger Moreland said, "The basketball community at home and abroad will be aghast that this can happen again. It seems every barrier to progress for basketball originates in Britain; the very country that should be embracing the progress its basketball teams have achieved" (TELEGRAPH, 2/4). TSN reported NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last month that the London Olympics were a "lost opportunity" and questioned "why the government wasn't backing basketball" (TSN, 2/4).
MORE SPORTS AFFECTED: The BBC reported three Paralympic sports -- wheelchair fencing, goalball and five-a-side football -- "have suffered the same fate." British men's basketball captain Drew Sullivan "hit out at the news on Twitter," accusing the decision-makers of "not having a clue." British Swimming was "equally upset with the decision to cut funding to synchornised swimming and water polo." British Swimming CEO David Sparkes called it "an extremely dark day for women's sport in this country" and said the announcement "could well signal the death of these historic Olympic sports in Britain" (BBC, 2/4).