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Why Australia's changes to Olympic funding could widen the divide between rich and poor sports

Why Australia's changes to Olympic funding could widen the divide between rich and poor sports

 


The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has submitted a proposal a new strategy to strengthen the financial health of Olympic sports.

At the heart of this initiative is a plan to enable individual sports federations to independently market the iconic Olympic rings in Australia.

This marks a significant departure from the traditional approach to collective Olympic team sponsorship.

Led by AOC CEO Matt Carroll, this move is intended to channel sponsorship revenue directly to the sports themselves. This is especially critical for sports that face significant financial challenges. As Carroll said, for a small sport, $50,000 is a lot of money.

Carroll has highlighted the precarious financial position of these organizations and pointed out that even a modest influx of commercial funding could dramatically improve their position. sustainability and growth.

The first hurdle you have to jump over

Despite the ambition of this strategy, the AOC faces an uphill battle in its implementation, with two major obstacles standing in the way.

The first is the capacity gap within smaller sports organizations.

Effectively deploying the Olympic brand requires a sophisticated marketing approach. Many smaller federations are already overloaded and lack the resources, expertise and human resources to set up successful marketing campaigns.

This wealth gap raises questions about their ability to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the AOC's new policies.

Fear of obstruction and oblivion

The second major hurdle is rooted in the governance structure of Australian sport.

While the federated system has its advantages, it also poses significant challenges to the coherent and strategic application of the AOC initiative.

In a federated sports system, independent organizations oversee various levels (regional and state) of the sport under a central governing body (national), while maintaining autonomy in their respective jurisdictions.

This system tends to encourage isolated activities rather than unified, collaborative efforts.

Kieren Perkins, CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, has criticized this model leading to obstruction and forgetfulness.

Money matters

The AOC plan is not merely a theoretical exercise, it is driven by financial necessity.

The committee has made an estimate Another $2 billion is needed) by 2032 to meet the needs of elite sport in Australia, with $1.5 billion specifically earmarked to improve athletes' competitiveness.

This substantial figure underlines the crucial need for innovative financing solutions, of which the AOC strategy is a key component.

While the AOC initiative is interesting, it is only one of many possible avenues to address the funding gap facing Olympic sports in Australia.

Other models and strategies have emerged around the world that provide valuable lessons and alternatives.

For example, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has introduced this access to their Team USA House in Paris as part of a hospitality package. This move underlines the potential to use Olympic assets for direct financing, independent of government support.

Similarly, the concept of a national sports lottery has been put forward in Australia. Such schemes have had a significant impact in other countries, particularly Britain.

The British Sports Lotterywhich has played a major role in the country's Olympic success, especially after the London 2012 Games, illustrates how targeted financing mechanisms can transform a country's Olympic fortunes.

Another innovative approach to sports financing is to redirect some of the government taxes collected from sports betting.

Seen prevalence of sports betting in Australiathis represents a potentially untapped source of revenue that could provide a sustainable funding stream for sports organizations.

World Athletics' recent decision to award the award cash prizes for medal achievements introduces an extra dimension to the discussion about the financing of athletes and sports.

World Athletics has announced it will become the first international federation to award prize money at an Olympic Games.

In Australia, gold, silver and bronze medalists receive bonuses of $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000 respectively. This is likely to rise as Australia prepares to host the 2032 Games.

While such measures could benefit major sports with greater visibility, they also risk widening the financial gap between these sports and the smaller, less commercially attractive disciplines such as table tennis.

In other words, sports with larger budgets can compensate their athletes while smaller sports cannot, potentially widening the gap.

Looking ahead to the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane

Looking ahead to 2032, it is critical for Australia to find strong, sustainable ways to support sport.

This challenge goes beyond just helping elite athletes: it's about improving the entire sporting landscape to make it more inclusive and fun for everyone.

Initiatives such as Toysin addition to Queensland's investments within a new center for Parasports at the University of Queensland are steps towards improving access to sport for individuals, regardless of their ability.

These efforts highlight the need for cross-sector collaboration and the importance of innovative financing methods.

John CairneyHead of Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland; Richard Baka, Honorary Professor, School of Kinesiology, Western University, London, Canada; Adjunct Fellow, Olympic Scientist and Co-Director of the Olympic and Paralympic Research Centre, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria UniversityAnd Tracy TaylorAdjunct professor of sports management, Victoria University


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