Run with Eric + training

2012 Olympics far from a private affair

Bad news for Team GB: eight sports have had their funding slashed ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.

They're all relatively minor sports, but the cuts are major enough: water polo is losing half of its budget and shooting will be forced to scale down from 46 funded athletes to 10. Several teams, including water polo, may be forced to pull out of the 2012 Olympics, scuppering the Government's plans to field athletes in every... field.

Well, that's not good, is it? Especially after Britain's success in the Beijing Olympics last year. I can see a lot of people being disappointed with this - and not just the athletes. The British public has fallen in love with the idea of hosting the Olympics, and knowing their own country won't be able to compete in some events will be a major blow to morale. Also, the UK was given the Olympics on the basis it would be cheap - much cheaper than Beijing. I don't think withdrawing their own team was the idea they had in mind.

It's easy to say this kind of disappointment is inevitable in a recession, and to an extent it is, but that's not the direct reason for this. No - it's a £50m funding shortfall. Yeah. OK, enough beating around the bush: the Government failed to raise ANY MONEY AT ALL from the private sector. Not a single penny. Nothing. At. All.

So yes, indirectly the economy's general downward spiralling motion is arguably to blame because private companies aren't happy to be chucking about money at the moment, and certainly not into the training of younger athletes, contributing in turn to national success (much better to invest in Iceland, eh?).

But ultimately, the Government itself must take some responsibility for failing to marshal the private sector into investing in Britain's sporting future. I don't know quite what its level of campaigning was, but clearly it wasn't enough.

I know one thing, though:

taxpayers will not be happy. Reading The Metro tomorrow morning on the bus to work, I can see them choking on their Nutri-Grains reading about how private business has let them down once again. "Why should we pay the money if they don't?", they'll ask. I don't think taxes will rise as a result of the funding shortfall - too unpopular, even with the excitement over the Games - but it's not going to help public attitudes towards companies that many see as having helped to land Britain in this economic mess in the first place. Class war, here we come: public vs. private sector. Now that's sport.

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2012 Olympics far from a private affair + training