UK Sport stands firm on basketball funding decision

UK Sport have announced this afternoon that the decision will STAND on British Basketball receiving no further funding this year as part of the Rio 2016 cycle.

With Baseball’s removal as an Olympic sport back in 2005, and the reluctance for UK Sport to invest in GB Ice Hockey – British Basketball becomes the third and final American sport that did, or does, have Olympic involvement NOT to have its British teams funded by UK Sport.

In a statement, UK Sport announced their confirmation of 37 “realistic medal potential” sports in which funding would be in place for moving forward ahead of the Rio and Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The only sport that received a reprieve for funding was that of weightlifting – five other elite programmes (Goalball, Synchronised Swimming, Visually-Impaired Football, Water-Polo (Women) and Wheelchair Fencing) also have been told they will receive no further funding.

Rod Carr, Chair of UK Sport, said in the statement: “Through our representations process we are able to give sports the opportunity to present their case to our Board to reconsider the decisions announced in February. We have listened to all the sports and thank them all for presenting their cases so professionally and passionately.

“The starting point for UK Sport and the Board is that we want to be able to invest in as many Olympic and Paralympic sports as possible but they must be able to credibly demonstrate medal winning potential within eight years.

“Weightlifting came back to us with a compelling new strategy focussed on developing their most talented female athletes with a view to challenging for medals by Tokyo 2020.

“For the sports that are not yet at the level that we can continue to fund them it’s important to recognise the vast majority of them do still benefit from other sources of considerable public funding driving participation and improving talent development through the Home Country Sports Councils.

“I accept that by its very nature ‘No Compromise’ is not universally popular but there’s one thing we are sure of – it works. The recent outstanding successes at the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games demonstrated once again that investing the right money, in the right athletes, for the right reasons, is a winning formula.”

Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, who made a major gaffe at labelling those who do not win as “hardly role models” shortly after the initial funding decision, said today: “Thirty sports won medals at London 2012 and over the remaining years of this Rio cycle UK Sport will be investing in 37 sports with credible medal potential for 2016 or 2020. This is a really positive demonstration of the incredible progress of the UK’s high performance system since National Lottery funding came on stream.

“If the nation values sporting success we can deliver it, but only if we remain focussed, as the Olympic and Paralympic environment is becoming increasingly competitive. I am confident our approach will continue to deliver more wonderful moments to inspire the nation.

“These are tough calls to make and we know that it is even tougher for the sports and athletes directly affected by funding withdrawal. All of these sports know that they have the opportunity to come back to us at the annual review stage each Autumn to make a case for future funding if they can demonstrate a realistic opportunity to win a medal within the next two Olympic or Paralympic cycles.

“We will also work with these sports that are now not funded for the Rio cycle to help manage this transition, and shape their future plans.”

British Basketball responded shortly after the announcement, and now will “consider carefully” over if a formal appeal will be put forward.

Roger Moreland, Performance Chairman for British Basketball said: “We are very grateful to the widespread support we have received from inside and outside the sport. It has shown a home-grown passion for basketball in this country and a desire to see GB teams succeed further.”

“The players and staff deserve the utmost credit for their achievements and we thank them for their efforts. Today’s decision does not hide the fact that we are immensely proud of their success over the last seven years; and there will be more to come.”

“The vigorous debate on how we fund elite sport in this country has identified a gap in the funding system, which can particularly affect team sports. Winning medals now and in the future should be celebrated, but we need to consider its impact. Basketball has a grassroots base bigger than any other British Olympic team sport. A funding system with nearly £350 million pounds available for elite sport cannot be working to the best of its ability, if it can leave sports like basketball behind.”

“If there is the political will and the leadership, a solution can be found. Other countries have done so.”

“We are still planning for success this summer and in the short term, our focus has to be on backing our teams as much as we possibly can, so they can do their jobs on the court. We are still on the road to Rio and the next step is to qualify for EuroBasket 2015.”

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