Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic funding...

So, a lot of people are complaining that we haven't won any medals yet at the Olympics.

And a lot of people are complaining that the athletes should shut up already about wanting more funding.

But please, don't do both.

How are our athletes supposed to compete against athletes receiving many times more money in funding from their governments? Let's compare ourselves to Australia, a smaller, but nonetheless similar country.

Canada's funding for Summer and Winter sports combined is $40 million.

Between the Australian Olympic Committee (10.5 million a year) and the Australian Sports Commission ($151 million a year) Australia spends over $160 million a year. (That's ON TOP of their government's $2.1 billion for sports and recreation... don't even get me started).

Now, it's true that Australia's funds are focused mostly on the Summer Olympics (giving them an even GREATER Summer advantage over Canada) but even if Australia divided their money roughly evenly between Summer and Winter Olympics they'd STILL be out spending us 4:1 in the Summer, and 4:1 in the Winter (actually, MORE than 4:1 on a per capita basis, as Australia has only about 2/3 of our population).

And what about the "Own the Podium 2010" program that everyone talks so much about? $110 million spread over 5 years. It's a supposedly "big" investment in doing our best ever at Vancouver, and it basically amounts to spreading less than 1 years worth of Australia's Olympic funding, spread over half a decade.

Way to go Canada.

So, if you want to complain that we're not winning enough medals, fine. If you want to complain that we shouldn't increase funding for Olympic sports, fine (there's an argument to be made there). But for God's sake don't do both.

We spend around $1.20 per person funding our athletes while our comparable competitors spend about $7.50 each (while crazy spenders like the Chinese were well over $25 per person this year!). That's not our athletes fault. They're not "whining" when they point out that they receive less than a quarter of the funding most of their competitors are receiving, they're simply trying to defend themselves. They're reacting to Canadians constantly whining that they're not doing well enough, and they're trying to point out to Canadians that it's not easy to beat the New York Yankees if you only spend $50 million a year on your players. And at least the Washington Nationals only have to worry about beating the Yankees, Red Sox, and maybe a couple other "out of their league" spending teams. Every once in a while you can overcome those odds. Our Canadian Olympic athletes on the other hand are asked to compete against probably a DOZEN or so New York Yankees teams (and a couple of teams like the U.S. and China spending WAY beyond even that).

Forget winning a lot of medals. With that kind of disadvantage, I'm impressed they're not curled up in the fetal position whimpering in a corner somewhere after their events.

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45 comments:

Mushroom said...

Let's levy a tax to create a National Institute of Sport. There will be calls by the end of the month when Canada fails to win a single gold medal.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, I wouldn't be so fast to assume we're not going to win a single gold. There's still a fair bit of Olympics to go.

I would love to have a National Institute of Sport endowed, like the Australians have though. I wonder how Canadians would react to a limited, time sensitive tax to set something like that up. Say, tell Canadians that Revenue Canada is going to take a fixed extra amount from everyone (say $2.50) every tax year for the next, say 5 years, which will lead to $X million which will be put into an endowment for a National Institute.

Would people go for something like that do you think, or would they balk?

Mushroom said...

If Dion is smart he would cancel the tax credit for organized sport Flaherty established and put the money into a National Sports Commission. Note that the National Institute of Sport is only a part of the Sports Commission. A substantial amount of money goes into after school and wellness programs. It will be similar to a health tax that is implemented here in Ontario.

Anonymous said...

this bloggers information is simply incorrect. Give me websites quoting those figures please because from all my sources on the web the canadian olympic team gets more than australia.

This is in comparison to Australias government which just injected a one time 135 million just after winning the right to hold the Sydney Olympics. The AOC which is Australias olympic commitee is a self funded commitee and raises its funds from sponsers. They were able to raise $30 million in the leadup to the beijing games to help their atheletes. The federal government did help the AOC by giving 10 million each year in the leadup to the games.. this is far from Canada's summer olympic team which gets $24 million funding from the government each year, plus the additional 166 million from the sport funding program.. this does not even include sponsorship funding which is up with australias 30 millon per year.

In Australia Gold Medallists will receive $15,000, Silver medallists will receive $10,000, bronze medallists $7,500 and in a new move 4th placegetters will receive $5,000.

In Canada Gold Medalists will receive $ 20,000, Silver medallists receive $15,000 and Bronze get $10,000



Excerts from Web Sources.

Athlete Assistance Program - a fund which gives top-level, Canadian Olympic-bound athletes a monthly stipend of $1,500 per month (equivalent to $18,000 per year, tax-free) to support their training.

The Government of Canada is the single largest investor in Canada’s sport system, supporting participation and excellence from the playground to the podium. In 2008-09, the federal investment in the Canadian sport system will reach an all-time high of $166 million annually. This amount includes the Budget 2008 commitment of $24 million and an additional $24 million per year in ongoing support to Canada’s summer sport athletes through the Road to Excellence program. This provides funding for initiatives to support our high-performance summer sport athletes by increasing the number of coaches, training camps and opportunities for our athletes to take part in international competitions.

In 1994, after Sydney won the right to host the 2000 Olympics, the Australian Federal Government injected $135 million for the gold medal plan, which targeted 60 medals, 20 of them gold. At the Sydney Games, Australia won 58 medals (16 gold) and followed up with 49 (17 gold) in Athens, with predictions of 42 to 48 in Beijing.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates believes Australia is lagging its major competitors in funding of elite athletes and coaches. "My sense is that we are being left behind," Coates told reporters.

He noted that the British Olympic team is receiving 1.05 billion CAD ahead of the London Games and that Britain is on course to surpass Australia as an Olympic nation.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

anon,

Well, the links are right there in the post above, but I do agree that I've seen conflicting reports as to how much Canada gives to Olympic athletes.

Here's the direct quote from the Globe and Mail article from above (click on "$40 million" in the post):

"...four years ago, Richard Pound of the International Olympic Committee urged Canadian governments to spend a relatively modest $50-million annually on Olympic sport. Winter and summer sports combined are receiving a little over $40-million".

As I said, I have subsequently seen sites that quoted numbers that suggest it's more than what's in the Globe article, and much closer to what the Australians spend, but NOWHERE have I seen anyone even suggest that we spend more than the Aussies. I'm not sure that assertion's right at all.

You're right though that Australia is beginning to feel like they're starting to lag behind their competitors, but that's not us, it's the Americans and the Chinese and the British. The Aussies are starting to fall behind where they'd like to be, but as far as I can tell they're still MILES ahead of us.

Also, for the record, that $166 million figure you site for Canada above is, I believe, for ALL sports funding "from the playground to the podium". The similar figure for Australia for ALL sports funding was just over $2 BILLION in 2001/02 (combining federal and state funding). The Australian federal share of that was just under $200 million.

viagra online said...

Please note that the National Institute of Sports is only part of the Sports Commission. A substantial amount of money goes to after-school and wellness programs. It will be similar to a health tax that takes place here in Ontario. HAVE SOME PATIENCE.

unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kokonohp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kokonohp said...

I would love to have a National Institute of Sport endowed, like the Australians have though. I wonder how Canadians would react to a limited, time sensitive tax to set something like that up. Say, tell Canadians that Revenue Canada is going to take a fixed extra amount from everyone (say $2.50) every tax year for the next, say 5 years, which will lead to $X million which will be put into an endowment for a National Institute.
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Anonymous said...

You're right though that Australia is beginning to feel like they're starting to lag behind their competitors, but that's not us, it's the Americans and the Chinese and the British. The Aussies are starting to fall behind where they'd like to be, but as far as I can tell they're still MILES ahead of us.
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kokonohp said...

Let's levy a tax to create a National Institute of Sport. There will be calls by the end of the month when Canada fails to win a single gold medal.
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Akai_Tsuki said...

I would love to have a National Institute of Sport endowed, like the Australians have though. I wonder how Canadians would react to a limited, time sensitive tax to set something like that up.
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