With the Olympics barely begun there are suggestions that a disappointing performance could lead to calls for more funding for elite athletes. David Penberthy in The Telegraph has taken issue with sports funding: Time to splash a little cold water on funding.
It is now taken as given that our sporting performance is so inextricably linked to our national psyche that Canberra must dutifully pour millions and millions of dollars into elite sports, however obscure the sports might be. We are now spending more money on sport than at any time in our history.
The AOC suggested that the $120 million was $100 million short of what was required. It's probably inevitable that this will ignite our federal member and his proposals for sports infrastructure and tourism, including a tropical campus of the Australian Institute of Sport in Cairns.
Total sports funding was increased by an unprecedented $195 million to $1.2 billion a few years ago, with an extra $23.3 million being handed to high-performance sport funding for the Olympics and Paralympics under a total outlay of $120 million. In February last year, amid dire warnings from the Australian Olympic Committee about the downward trend in our medal tally (58 in Sydney, 49 in Athens, 46 in Beijing), the feds allocated another $2.5 million under the Green and Gold project. Of that money, $1 million went to swimming, meaning taxpayers could help fund things like Ian Thorpe’s non-comeback, and $50,000 went to equestrian sport, even though it seems to be most popular with the landed gentry.
This also has the support of the TTNQ sports events strategy:
3) Collaboration with James Cook University in the development of a Cairns campus of the Australian Institute of Sport that focuses on tropical expertise in sports.
The Australian Institute of Sports was founded by the Fraser Guvmint following the poor medal performance at the drug tainted 1976 Montreal Olympics. Promotion of tropical expertise is part of the economic strategy for the Far North. However, when it comes to sport i'm not sure what 'tropical expertise' actually is?
Penberthy is certainly not convinced that elite sport is an appropriate priority for funding:
More pertinently, given that there is always a finite amount of public money which can be spent, I reckon it’s interesting that we have come up with an unchallenged model by which able-bodied people can play sport at the highest level, and travel the world having a hell of a good time doing so, but we still haven’t got a solution to fund the care of people with disabilities so that they can live their lives with dignity.