Underfunding means Australia face failure in Brisbane – AOC

The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has called on the government to make up an A$2 billion ($1.33 billion) shortfall in sports funding over the next 10 years or risk failure at the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.

In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday, AOC Chief Executive Matt Carroll also called on the government to give sport its own ministry rather than remaining as “the forgotten poor cousin” in the Health Department.

“Successive sports plans over many years have not achieved their ambitions, because they have been funded to fail,” Carroll said.

“On the forward projections based on the work we have done with our 44 member sports, Australian sport will fall over a financial cliff. Sports are fighting each other for a share of a cake that keeps getting smaller.

“Our analysis shows that … there’s a $2 billion shortfall in direct funding to sports across the 10 years leading to Brisbane 2032. That’s not nearly enough to retain the current levels of sports performance, let alone to maximise the Brisbane 2032 opportunities.”

The country will also host the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 2026, a key staging post on the path to producing the sort of medal tally expected of a host nation when the Olympics arrive Down Under for the third time.

Australia finished third behind the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the medals table when Melbourne hosted the Olympics in 1956 and fourth behind the U.S., Russia and China in 2000 when the Games were staged in Sydney.

Carroll said a similar showing in 2032 was unlikely without a major funding boost.

“Unless this situation is rectified, Australia will be staring failure in the face at the 2026 Commonwealth Games and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games because our home teams will have been undermined by inaction,” Carroll added.

He also called for a Statement of Purpose on Sport from the government, acknowledging that sport not only wins the nation recognition at elite level but also plays a major role in combating social harms such as inactivity and obesity.

The Australian Institute of Sport, once a trailblazer in the use of sport science to improve performance, also required increased funding, Carroll said.

“To return the AIS back to its global position, the AOC calls for increased investment in the AIS so it is home to the best and brightest in the sports science, medicine, technology and data disciplines,” he said.

Carroll concluded that time was of the essence.

“The Olympic and Paralympic medals Australian athletes win are years in the making,” he said.

“There is one certainty in all of this, the Olympic flame will be lit in Brisbane on 23 July 2032 – whether we are ready or not.”

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