AOC welcomes pathway funding but laments lack of direct support for Olympic sports
3 April 2019
AOC: The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has welcomed the $54 million pathway funding announced in the Federal budget but says the lack of meaningful investment to directly benefit participation and high performance in Olympic sports is profoundly disappointing.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll says the pathway funding is critical but noted the funding pales in comparison to the $100 million directly allocated to a handful of professional clubs in two football codes.
“The $54 million will certainly benefit Olympic sports but it’s over two years and at first glance it’s impossible to identify any meaningful funding going directly to the family of 40 Olympic sports to grow their participation and produce high performance.
“Of the total funding announced for sport in this budget, the lion’s share of that money appears to be directed to a handful of major professional sports.”
Mr Carroll says the AOC has long sought appropriate funding for pathways with AOC President John Coates putting the issue firmly on the agenda in 2016.
“Naturally we welcome recognition of this missing link. But the issue Olympic sports face is a lack of certainty. With no recurrent funding on the table beyond 2020, it’s impossible for sports to plan and budget. Without certainty it becomes very difficult to retain coaches and in that sense the pathway funding could well be wasted,” Mr Carroll said.
“We have 8.9 million Australians engaged in 40 Olympic sports, some of which are facing cuts, others face ongoing uncertainty and many receive no funding at all.”
In September 2018, the AOC called on the Federal Government to invest an additional $60 million a year in recurrent funding to boost participation and high performance for Australia’s Olympic sports.
The AOC made a case that direct investment in Olympic sports can contribute significantly to national well-being, addressing the obesity crisis, improving mental health, strengthening communities and boosting national pride.
“Olympic sports with their cultural diversity and long term female participation are well placed to deliver many of the initiatives that government seeks if they are supported.
“That hasn’t happened based on what we have seen to date. Of course, we recognise the importance of the allocations for infrastructure, for meaningful programs, the programs for sport in schools and athlete well-being. But there is no money for the sports themselves. That’s what’s missing.
“We continue to produce wonderful athletes across the many Olympic sports that make Australians proud.
“However, our competitors elsewhere in the world clearly understand that appropriate levels of funding for sport produce results on the world stage. That is not happening in Australia."
Mr Carroll also welcomed the emphasis on women’s sport, where the Olympic movement has a proud record success in gender balance and gender equity.
“Women’s sport wasn’t invented yesterday. So many of the great role models of Australia’s Olympic history have been iconic women.
“It remains to be seen whether the funding directed to women’s sport finds its way into the Olympic sports or whether its aimed at the few major professional sports."
Mr Carroll stressed the AOC did not seek funding for itself, but for the sports which constitute the AOC membership.
“The AOC is self-funded and independent. We fund many sports ourselves which receive no Federal Government assistance."