Aussie Olympians need a handout to perform well at Paris 2024
Australian sports face failure at the upcoming Olympic and Commonwealth Games without strong government action, the Australian Olympic Committee says.
The AOC says it is $2 billion short of its ideal funding position and wants the federal government to establish a dedicated federal department of sports to fight what it says is a chronic decline in investment.
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll estimates $200 million a year over a decade is needed to 2032, when Queensland hosts the OIympics.
Victoria is home to the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Carroll told the National Press Club on Monday:
"Without investment, what governments in Australia want sport to achieve for the community is not going to happen. And, in all honesty and openness, unless this situation is rectified, Australia will be staring failure in the face at the 2026 Commonwealth Games and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games because our home teams will have been undermined by inaction.
"What the Olympic and Paralympic and Commonwealth games sports get told is 'there is no more money'. A few weeks later, as we get closer to elections, there will be a new stadium or an extension or a high-performance centre (for a NRL club)."
Carroll said the situation was dire as individual sports struggled to make ends meet due to inflation costs, making preparing for competition difficult for athletes.
The proposed structure for a department of sports would merge existing agencies such as the Australian Sports Commission and National Sports Tribunal to provide centralised services.
A minister of sport would have direct access to the prime minister therefore ensuring a sporting voice in government, Carroll said.
He cited the example of the Australian men's volleyball team as one of many elite sports suffering.
In 2019, the Volleyroos were ranked 13th in the world and finished second at the Asian Volleyball Championships.
The team narrowly missed qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 due to limited Olympic places.
"The consequences? The dollar-starved Australian Institute of Sport assessed the Volleyroos as having no Olympic medal potential," Carroll said.
Investment in the Volleyroos was cut from $1.4m to zero leaving Australia with no prospect of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics - they're now ranked 39th in the world.
A similar scenario was impacting Australia's women's hockey team, Carroll said.
Funding for the Hockeyroos was cut by a seven-figure sum by the AIS in December 2021 after they were deemed as lacking winning potential at the Paris Games despite being ranked fourth in the world.
Last year the Hockeyroos won bronze at the Women's World Cup and took silver at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and are now ranked No.3 in the world.