Australia risks Olympic failure without more government funding for elite sport, according to Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll.
Carroll has called on the Federal Government to increase funding for athletes by $2 billion ahead of the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in a speech at the National Press Club.
He suggested funding for Australian sport is in “decline” and says we will be “staring failure in the face” without more money.
Government money in sport
The Federal Government funds a variety of sports through the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). It will receive $348 million in funding this financial year.
This funding is used for a variety of functions. This includes the operation of the Australian Institute of Sport, an athlete training facility in Canberra.
The ASC also directly funds over 50 sports to support both community participation and elite performance. Many smaller sports with little commercial revenue are heavily reliant on government money to operate.
Gold for gold?
Advocates for government funding in sport argue there is a direct link between funding elite athletes and achieving sporting success.
Some estimates suggest the typical gold medal ‘costs’ taxpayers several million dollars (based on the total number of medals won compared to the funding for the athletes).
Bid for more money
In a speech at the National Press Club, Carroll said there was “certainly” a link between funding and medal success.
Carroll called on the Government to increase its funding by $2 billion – $1.5 billion for elite athletes directly and $500 million for community participation – to “arrest the decline” in sport funding “for the good of the nation”.
Australia achieved its third-highest medal tally ever at the Tokyo 2020 games, but Carroll claimed Australia risks Olympic failure in future without further action. “The Brisbane games will not be a success if the Australian teams are not successful.”
Major parties respond
Government funding for elite sport peaked in 2018-19 then began to decline. Total sports funding is set to fall every year for the next four years.
A Government spokesperson told TDA the Government is still considering the “appropriate” level of sport funding and it would be “premature to be making claims about a funding shortfall”.
Shadow Sport Minister Anne Ruston told TDA the Government should be “stepping up” its funding. Ruston noted the 2018-19 peak was reached under the Coalition but funding is “now in decline”.