Olympics: British PM announces more cash for athletes

Updated: Aug 13, 2012, 05:47 AM IST

London, Aug 13 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that his government would find funding to maintain investment in elite Olympic athletes so that they can continue to challenge at the top level for the 2016 Rio Games.

The elite performers and coaches of British sports will continue to get about 125 million pounds ($196 million) a year for each year through to 2016-17,

Prior to Cameron`s announcement, funding for the elite athletes was set to be cut in a comprehensive package of government budget cuts introduced in 2010 as part of austerity measures to tackle a record public-sector spending deficit.

The announcement was for an extra 80 million pounds ($125 million) up to the year 2016-17, to maintain investment levels. But more of the money for the elite athletes and their training schemes will come from National Lottery funding in the ratio of one third government money, two thirds from the lottery.

"There`s a direct link between elite success and participation in sport. I want one of the legacies of the London Games to be our athletes triumphing in Rio in 2016, and in future Olympic Games. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens," Cameron said.

Before Cameron`s announcement, UK Sport, the body which handles the investment of the money in athletes and their training programs, had been certain of its funding only up to 2015, which was the end of the government`s current austerity package.

Cameron`s move means sports planners are now certain of how much money they will get up to 2016-17.

UK Sport chairman Baroness Sue Campbell said: "The government`s announcement to maintain funding in our high-performance system demonstrates vision and commitment to sustain this level of high performance beyond London on to Rio and beyond -- a true legacy of the Games."

Britain`s Olympic athletes in Team GB have beaten their excellent performance in Beijing in 2008, where they enjoyed a haul of 47 medals including 19 gold, and with the advantage of a home audience willing them on have won 29 gold medals in a total of 65 medals.

It is their best performance in more than 100 years.

Cameron identified spectators as the key to home advantage.

"The idea actually that the greatest member of Team GB was the British public may have been an advertising slogan, but it turned out to be spectacularly true."

In a press conference at Downing Street, he hailed the London Games as a success.

"I think you only need two words to sum up these games: Britain delivered."

Cameron also confirmed that Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), would become the London Olympics Legacy Ambassador.