Australian athletes denied chance to qualify for Paris Olympics over $18.3 million
Skyrocketing costs and a budget deficit for Australian athletes mean that aspiring Olympians and Paralympians may miss their chance to qualify for the Paris Olympics and beyond.
The Australian Olympic Committee has warned that without an urgent $18.3 million cash injection, athletes would miss their chance at Olympic glory.
The economic crisis Australians are experiencing in the wake of the Corona crisis has also spread to athletes who are struggling and the cost of flights and other expenses are rising.
The AOC has submitted a motion to the federal government detailing the budget deficit for qualifying and preparing athletes for the 2028 Paris and Los Angeles Olympics.
However, the request for the urgent $18.3 million cash injection was denied by the federal government.
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said the situation is dire and will only get worse, with implications for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics
Without proper support and funding, Australia would not have success stories like Jessica Fox winning gold in the women’s canoe at the Tokyo Olympics
Hockey is one of the sports that could suffer if more funds are not found as potential team members cannot afford to qualify and compete
In the filing, AOC chief executive Matt Carroll warned that failing to initiate funding would have a significant impact on the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.
“Unless this investment gap is closed, the inevitable result is that Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic teams will be underprepared and underfunded to achieve the success that all Australians await.” The Brisbane 2032 Games will certainly be fail if the investment deficit is not remedied
Carroll told news corp that the 44 member sports were already looking for cost reductions that would result in fewer athletes getting the chance to qualify.
“We’re now at the point where the Paris Games are next year where the sport is struggling really hard,” Carroll said.
“They now actually have to think about reducing squad size, reducing the number of athletes they send to qualify and thereby reducing the chance for many young Australians to achieve their dream of the Paris Games.”
Federal Sport Minister Anika Wells believes Australian sport is well funded and does not need the extra $18.3 million
Paralympic athletes like Louise Sauvage also struggle to compete in qualifying tournaments as airfare and other costs soar
Australian swimmers are unlikely to be affected, but athletes in less glamorous sports may not be able to afford to qualify
Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells justified the refusal of funding by referring to existing expenditure on Australian sports.
“The Albanian government continues to invest in sport at all levels,” she said.
“This financial year the Labor Government is providing more than $127 million to Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth sports to promote high-performance sports and career support.”
“The government has also committed billions as part of the green and golden decade leading up to Brisbane 2032, including more than $40 million for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which begins in July this year.”
“We continue to consider appropriate investments in sports and athletes to help them perform at their best.”
This comes after Carroll previously warned that Australia would fall further down the medal ranks at the upcoming Olympics if an additional $200 million in funding was not made available each year in the run-up to the Brisbane Games.
“Until this situation is rectified, Australia will face failure at the 2026 Commonwealth Games and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games because our home side will be weakened by inaction,” Carroll told the National Press Club in March.
“Based on the federal government’s projections, there is a $2 billion shortage of direct investment in the sport of the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games over the decade to Brisbane 2032.” Wanting to achieve sport for the community is this ‘that’s not going to happen.’
Olympic legend Keiran Perkins is now head of the government-backed Australian Sport Commission
Perkins was a four-time Olympic gold medalist in a glorious period for Australia, but without financial backing, potential champions could fall through the cracks
Australia’s athlete contingent could be much smaller at the upcoming Olympics if budget deficits are not made up
Olympic swimming icon Kieren Perkins, who currently chairs the government-backed Australian Sport Commission, recognized sport is facing major financial challenges and stressed the need for improved solutions.
“We know that many sports are being weighed down by the increased cost of touring and running high-performance programs,” he said.
“The rising cost of living is a problem that affects so many Australians and the impact is being felt across all sectors.”
“We understand the issues facing the sport and are working closely with the government to support our athletes in addressing these challenges.”
Carroll said the AOC will continue to work with the federal government to find a solution to the funding shortfall.
“We are working with the Office of the Minister for Sport and of course the Sports Commission, but they cannot wait,” he said.
“It cannot be started next year.” Next year’s budget is too late. Paris is July next year.
“But it’s not just about numbers and qualifications, because there is a human story behind all of this.” “These athletes worked very hard to qualify and they will qualify as long as they can compete.”