Australian report criticises Olympic medal count “obsession”

Reuters reports that Australia Olympic Committee chairman John Coates hit out at businessman John Crawford, the leader of the panel which produced the report, which rejected calls by the AOC for more funding to keep the country in the top-five in the medals table at the London 2012 Olympics.

“Is he (Crawford) telling us that the gold medals won by the rowers and sailors in Beijing count for nothing?” Coates said.

“The message I get from Crawford is that they’re going to look at participation, and on that basis, some of our small sports, lower profile sports that have provided Olympic heroes in the past, I think they would be in the gun.”

The AOC has requested an extra A$100 million per year for the next three years, on top of the current A$140 million budget. But the new report said the government should be concentrating more on funding popular sports like cricket, golf and football.

“Swimming, tennis, cricket, cycling, the football codes, netball, golf, hockey, basketball, surfing and surf lifesaving are among the most popular sports in Australia, a part of the national psyche,” it said.

“If we are truly interested in a preventative health agenda through sport, then much of it may be better spent on lifetime participants than almost all on a small group of elite athletes who will perform at that level for just a few years.”