Sport Australia Under Pressure To Delay Funding Cuts
Sport Australia is "under pressure to shelve until after the Tokyo Games a contentious new funding model" that could potentially strip more than A$1M ($722,700) from the athletics team in the "critical 12 months leading up to the 2020 Olympics," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. Athletics Australia President Mark Arbib said that the model was based on a "bureaucratic obsession with winning medals" rather than a "fair assessment" of the sport and its leading athletes -- javelin thrower Kathryn Mitchell, discus thrower Dani Stevens, high jumper Brandon Starc, and hurdler Sally Pearson. Arbib said, "The new funding system should be immediately suspended and reviewed after the Tokyo Games. To move ahead like this provides great uncertainty for Olympic sports and will threaten the preparation of our athletes." The high-performance funding model, unveiled last Friday, includes a financial boost for 12 Olympic and Paralympic sports from Jan. 1, with women’s football, women’s rugby sevens, para-athletics, diving, shooting and softball "among the big summer sport winners." Australian Institute of Sport Dir Peter Conde said that while the new model contained "tough decisions," these were necessary for Australia to secure the best Olympic and Paralympic return from a "tight sports budget." He said, "We are here to fund for podium success. That is what we are charged with doing. None of the sports that have been cut are in that frame" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/27).