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Australian Institute of Sport cuts funding to sports deemed to have lower medal winning prospects

Australian Institute of Sport cuts funding to sports deemed to have lower medal winning prospects
December 1, 2018

The government-funded Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) announced early this week that it will be implementing a new investment model that will boost high performance funds for a number of sports while cutting funding to others deemed to have lower medal-winning chances.

Table tennis, synchronised swimming and men's soccer won't receive any financial support due to their small medaling prospects.

"The AIS has determined that, relative to other sports, they consider table tennis has a low probability to win a medal at the 2020 Olympic Games, or win a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games," Table Tennis Australia said.

Sports funding has become an increasingly contentious issue in Australia. 

"Sports that are lifting performance through well thought-out strategic plans, employing coaches and driving improvement in their systems have found themselves abandoned or facing great uncertainty," said Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) Chief Executive Matt Carroll. 

"It would be naive to think that high performance athletes can enjoy their best preparation when there is financial pressure on coaching, programmes, competitions and rising costs."

The AIS said in a statement that "a small number" of sports faced funding cuts after June 2019.

Funding to gymnastics, waterpolo, volleyball and sailing from the AIS would be significantly cut if they can't explain why they need it. 

Athletics Australia (AA) stands to lose about $1.1 million next financial year. AA president Mark Arbib was "extremely disappointed" with the cuts for track and field, all of which would come from the able-bodied program. 

"We're less than two years out from the Olympics and only 80 per cent of the athletics budget is guaranteed," said Arbib. "That definitely means cuts to the athletics budget going into Tokyo. Funding cuts won't only impact athletes heading to Tokyo – it will also mean we have to cut back in other areas.

"We are urgently seeking to show cause with the AIS, making our case that the decision is not in the best interest of athletics, it's not in the best interest of sport and it's certainly not in the best interest of participation."

AIS Director Peter Conde stated that "we will certainly continue to support Australian athletes to provide the best chance of international podium success, but the emphasis will be on the number of Australian medalists across a breadth of sports." 

"We are confident that these changes will not impact on Olympic or Paralympic podium success."

However Carroll stated “we are realistic. Sports need to be accountable and there is only so much money to go around, but it is very difficult to plan and produce high performance in this environment. There is simply not enough money in the system," Carroll said.

“This is why the AOC recently called for an additional $60 million annually for both participation and high performance. We argued the return to government is a significant community health dividend along with the benefits that Australian athletes performing on the international stage bring, such as national pride, inspiration to our youth and social cohesion.” continued Carroll.

The AIS is set to redistribute funds to 12 new high-performance programs including women's football, rugby sevens, surfing and shooting.

Meanwhile, the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia could receive $2.3 million over the next two years. 

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14th February 2017 - Australian Olympic Committee blocks Australian Institute of Sport from Tokyo 2020 planning

31st July 2018 - Robert de Castella slams lack of direction at Australian Institute of Sport

16th May 2016 - Australian Institute of Sport confident ahead of Rio Games

25th February 2011 - Australian Institute of Sport granted Olympic Training Centre Status

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