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UK Sport chief defends funding decisions, but admits ‘devastating impact’ for those missing out

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The chief executive of UK Sport has defended the quango’s decision to cut funding to five Olympic sports, but acknowledged it would cause a “devastating impact”.

Liz Nicholl said that the choice to remove backing from archery, badminton, fencing, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby was a “matter of affordability”, and “should not be interpreted as a criticism of past performance, progress or commitment of any of the sports or athletes affected”.

“We would love to invest in every Olympic and Paralympic sport with medal potential but the reality is that available resources cannot stretch that far and we have to prioritise to protect and enhance the medal potential within the system,” she added.

“If we underinvest we will underperform at the Tokyo Games, the rest of the world will catch us up and medal success will be put at risk.”

Several sports losing funding have expressed their dismay, with Badminton England launching a petition for the issue to be debated in parliament. The governing body has also lodged a formal appeal.

“We are sensitive to the fact that this will have a devastating impact on the hopes and dreams of some athletes, coaches and support teams that miss out and we will be fully supporting those affected through a transition plan,” said the former England Netball chief executive.

Nicholl revealed UK Sport was targeting even more medals at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with an upper limit of 85 and 162 medals respectively.

Team GB won 67 medals in Rio, while Paralympics GB achieved a haul of 147 – putting both teams second in their respective medal tables.

“We know what it takes to win and what it costs to win and we believe the investments we have made for the Tokyo cycle will deliver medal-winning success to inspire the nation once again,” Nicholl added.

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The chief executive of UK Sport has defended the quango’s decision to cut funding to five Olympic sports, but acknowledged it would cause a “devastating impact”.
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Liz Nicholl said the quango was targeting more medals than the haul achieved during Rio 2016
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