Olympic funding cut to major programs after dismal showing at London Olympics.
Two of Australia’s biggest Olympic sports, swimming and athletics, had their annual high-performance funding cut Monday by the government-backed Australian Sports Commission (ASC).
Swimming, the best-funded of Australian sports saw its 2013-14 allocation from the ASC reduced by 5.8 percent to $8,165,000.
Athletics Australia’s high-performance funding was cut by 3.8 percent to Aus$6,570,000 for the same period.
Swimming Australia was told by the ASC that it needed to reduce overheads and “to demonstrate effective leadership and governance of the sport”.
Wholesale reforms are taking place in swimming with the appointment of two new bosses to Swimming Australia and new programmes to boost high performance, team-building and address psychological issues for athletes.
Leigh Nugent also recently resigned as head coach of the national team.
The funding cut follows a lacklustre showing at last year’s London Olympics by the once-dominant swimming team, which delivered its lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona 1992 — one gold, six silver and three bronze.
It was also Australian swimming’s first Games without an individual gold medal since the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Two inquiries commissioned after the disappointing performance found the squad lacked leadership and that “toxic” incidents such as drunkenness and bullying had gone unchecked.
The ASC said it was aiming for a top-five finish at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, top 15 at the 2014 Winter Olympics, first place on the medals table at next year’s Commonwealth Games and 20 or more world champions per year.
ASC chairman John Wylie said the funding allocations reflected the plan to move Australian sport from “world class to world best”.
“Our investment decisions were based on a set of principles that assessed sports’ ability to provide sound evidence that they can contribute to the targets,” Wylie said.
“We have also asked that sports be more accountable for best practice governance and commercial performance.”
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates supported the moves.
“Sports are now more accountable and they are not only judged on performance but governance,” he said in a statement.
Football Federation Australia had their allocation cut by 15 percent, but sailing received a 16.7 percent increase to $6.3 million on the back of three gold medals at the London Olympics.
Other sports to get a funding lift were canoeing, rowing, rugby sevens and golf. Rugby sevens and golf will be added to the Olympic programme for the 2016 Games in Rio.