The chief executive of GB Badminton has described UK Sport’s decision to axe its funding for the next Olympic cycle as “catastrophic”, with four other sports also set to lose all their exchequer and Lottery funding before the Tokyo Olympics.
Archery, badminton, fencing, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby saw their funding wiped out, while British Cycling’s bumpy year off the track worsened as it suffered a £4.3m cut. UK Sport warned “further conditions” could be applied to that money if the independent review into cycling’s culture, which is expected next month, was critical.
Adrian Christy, the head of GB Badminton, said the sport would appeal against the cut given Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge won bronze at Rio to secure Britain’s first men’s doubles medal and a crop of talented youngsters are coming through.
“We are staggered by this decision,” he said. “It is incomprehensible. Despite the most successful Olympic Games since 2004 for GB badminton, the decision presents a catastrophic impact on the sport and it will mean the cessation of all the funding that supports the performance and operations of our current squad of players.”
Writing in the Guardian, David Pond, the chief executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, admitted his surprise and described the implications for his sport as “stark”.
Earlier the UK Sport chair, Rod Carr, stressed British Cycling’s steep decline in funding from £30.2m to £25.9m to prepare for Tokyo 2020 was owing to its underperforming BMX and mountain bike programme as well as the need for it to use a sponsorship deal with HSBC to fund elite sport.
He also warned if an independent review upheld bullying and sexism allegations, or a parliamentary body raised serious questions about the sport’s lack of transparency, it could “fundamentally undermine” its success.
“Governance is a really important issue, whether it be Fifa or IAAF, and if there were issues in British Cycling, it fundamentally undermines everything,” Carr said. “If people don’t believe what they’re seeing on the track, if things are getting done in a way that we as the public think is untoward, then it’s really bad news so we take that very seriously.”
Carr also admitted he was concerned about the lack of transparency over what was in the package a member of British Cycling’s staff delivered to Team Sky for Bradley Wiggins on the day he won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011. “Of course it worries me but you learn not worry about things until you have the facts,” he said. “It’s tough this, and I’m hoping there aren’t any issues, but if there are then we’ll confront it because it’s really important.”
But Chelsea Warr, the director of performance at UK Sport, predicted the funding decisions would help British athletes win even more medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. “I’ve spoken to lots of people in our system who say we are operating on four out of six cylinders at the moment, so there are definitely improvement to be made,” she said, before setting a target of 51-85 Olympic medals and 115-162 Paralympic medals, a figure she said did not include professional sports such as tennis, or new Olympic sports such as surfing.