State of Aus sport funding incomprehensible: Olympic boss

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Canberra, Feb 15 (IANS) The head of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has slammed the Australian Sports Commission’s “incomprehensible” spend on consultants.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC), the government agency responsible for supporting and investing in sport and physical activity at all levels, has spent 17 million Australian dollars (US $11.4 million) on advertising and marketing and 7.7 million AUD (5.1 million USD) on leadership training in recent years, according to The Australian report.

It comes at a time when some Olympic sports are facing funding cuts of more than 60 percent in Australia.

Australia won 50 medals, including 17 gold, at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Australian athletes won 29 medals, eight of them gold.

“I am very surprised by where the money is being spent, particularly at a time when our senior athletes have been making representations for greater direct support,” John Coates, the president of the AOC, said on Saturday.

“Payments to advertising agencies … are incomprehensible.”

The ASC unites two entities: Sport Australia – responsible for driving the broader sports sector including participation, physical activity and industry growth – and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The Australian also reported that the AIS, which was established in 1981, has declined from a world class sports science and coaching hub to a “zoo with no animals”.

Coates likened the state of the AIS to that of a world-class hospital without any patients.

“What also must be remembered is at the end of the day, the AIS is a wholly run subsidiary of Sport Australia; it’s not a separate legal entity,” he said.

The ASC has previously called for an increase in government funding to undertake a redevelopment of the AIS campus in Canberra after 40 years.

Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Sport, said on Saturday that the redevelopment would be underway “within the next two or so years.”

At least seven AIS executives earn annual salaries exceeding 200,000 AUD (134,254 USD).

Colbeck said that he hoped “the good people at the top” of the sports executive “were being responsible with the resources available to sport.”

“All elements of the way sports are resourced are important. Sport Australia allocates resources and are responsible in that context,” he said.

–IANS

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