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UK Sport to consider changing funding criteria after Rio 2016

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The government’s high performance sport agency UK Sport is to reconsider its “no compromise” approach to funding elite sport.

Speaking to the BBC, UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said the agency would launch a consultation, during which all stakeholders – such as national governing bodies – will have an opportunity to voice their views on the current funding strategy.

UK Sport invests around £100m of public money into sport each year and its medals-based funding strategy has been credited with delivering Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic success in the past two Olympic Games.

Currently, sports which demonstrate that they are able to deliver Olympic medals are guaranteed financial support while those less likely to do so face cuts in funding. Sports which consistently underperform are in danger of losing their elite funding entirely.

While the “no compromise” approach has been hailed successful as it has delivered impressive medal hauls at the Beijing (2008) and London (2012) Olympic Games, sports which have lost out on funding have launched bitter attacks against the system.

Perhaps the most vocal of these has been British Basketball, which lost all its Olympic funding earlier this year, after UK Sport said it had “not done enough” to prove it could win a medal at the 2016 or 2020 Games.

Other sports which have lost their funding entirely include volleyball, synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting.

It now seems that UK Sport is reconsidering its no compromise approach.

"We really do want to listen," UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl told the BBC.

"We are not arrogant enough to think that we know how to do everything best. The questions that we need to ask now, of the nation, of the government, of our partners, are: What is it that they want UK Sport to be focused on? What is it they want UK Sport to deliver?”

She added that the organisation would take into considerations the views voiced by the consultation and would “refine its thinking” and agree a direction of travel in February.

While there are concerns that any change to the no compromise approach will endanger Team GB’s success at future Games, national governing bodies such as British Basketball have welcomed the decision to review the strategy.

Roger Moreland, performance chair for British Basketball said: "This review is a very welcome and timely development.

“It will hopefully lead to a more balanced funding approach that fills the gap for sports such as basketball that have a huge grassroots base, are showing potential at elite level but have yet to achieve Olympic medal success.”

Since having its elite funding cut, the men’s Team GB basketball has only won one of its 11 games. During that time it suffered a disastrous qualifying campaign in its efforts to reach the Eurobasket 2015 tournament – losing all four of its games and finishing bottom of its group.

It is expected that any changes to UK Sport strategy will be announced at the end of February 2015 and that they will not come to effect until after the Rio 2016 funding cycle.

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The government’s high performance sport agency UK Sport is to reconsider its “no compromise” approach to funding elite sport.
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