Rio 2016 Olympics: Britain begins preparation with N87.5bn


By George Aluo, with agency report

Two years after doing well at home during the London 2012 Olympics, Britain is doing everything possible to consolidate at the next Olympics in Rio 2016. Daily Sunsports scooped that UK Sports had budgeted a whooping £350 million (about N87.5bn) to prepare her elite athletes for Rio 2016, even as it stated that funds would only be released to sports that has medal prospects.

While British sports is swimming in cash, back home here in Nigeria the story is different, as the entire National Sports Commission (NSC) budget for 2014 is a little above N10 billion.

And in a bid to concentrate on sports with medal hopes for Britain, basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting have all had their Olympic funding withdrawn.

Three Paralympic sports – wheelchair fencing, goalball and five-a-side football – suffered the same fate. UK Sport Chief Executive, Liz Nicholls said it would be “high risk” to continue funding sports with little chance of winning a medal by 2016 and 2020.

He disclosed that around £350 million would be spent preparing Britain’s best medal chances at both the Olympics and Paralympics. British Basketball had reacted to the news with “disappointment” and claimed that the UK Sport funding system “appeared to show bias against team and emerging sport.”

The sport was in a similar position a year ago, but managed to win funding for a year on appeal. Now, that money had gone completely. “The basketball community at home and abroad will be aghast that this can happen again,” said Roger Moreland, British Basketball’s performance chairman.

“We are still on the road to Rio but we now have to qualify for EuroBasket 2015, with our hands tied behind our back.”  British Swimming were equally upset with the decision to cut funding to synchronised swimming and water polo.

“We will now carefully look at our options and may well consider a more formal appeal over these devastating decisions,” were the words of David Sparkes, a top official of British Swimming.

It would be noted that Britain finished third at home on the final medals table of London 2012 Olympics with 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze. USA came top with 26 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze, while China finished second with 38 gold , 27 silver and 23 bronze medals.

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