Sports Minister Murray McCully is defending the Government's funding of high performance sport, saying it has had a 50 per cent increase and could get a further boost in time to assist athletes training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Reports today that funding to Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand would be frozen for the next two years were "unduly negative" when the Government had increased their budget from $40 million to $60m a year over four years in 2010, he said.
"We think the $60m a year will enable us to make a quantum leap forward."
The Government had already opened the new $23m National Training Centre at the Millennium Institute on Auckland's North Shore.
Over the next two years a new velodrome and high performance centre for cycling would open in the Waikato, near the high performance centre for rowing at Lake Karapiro. The Government was contributing $7m towards the $28m facility.
A new $8.5m ocean sports centre at Takapuna was fully funded by the Government and was awaiting planning approvals.
McCully said sports had received a 50 per cent increase at a time when other government agencies were being told to cut their budgets.
"It would be ungrateful of me to ask for more right now but I anticipate that half way through this Olympic build-up, when hopefully the brakes will come off the budget, there will be an opportunity to put a case for extra funding."
Sports funding would again be looked at for the 2014 Budget when McCully said he hoped Finance Minister Bill English would be "in a generous frame of mind".
New Zealand winning 13 medals, five of them gold, in London vindicated the Government's spending, he said.
"The most pleasing thing about these games is that the rowers did significantly well and they are the sport which has had a world-class high performance in operation for the entire build up to these games.
"That is the recipe we hope to reproduce for cycling, kayak and for sailors, as well as the aquatic centre."
Canterbury University senior business lecturer Ekant Veer said the Government needed to put more money into Olympic funding and not concentrate on the top medal prospects.
"Funding only sure medallists not only sends the impression that we don’t support effort, but it also can kill a future generation of athletes who are inspired to step up and be the next gold medallist."
Discus champion Beatrice Faumuina didn’t come from a country especially known for the sport but without funding for up and coming athletes, she would have never won gold at Manchester in 2002, he said.
"Equally, Valerie Adams shocked the world with her dominance of shot put, even though we, as a nation, had never lived up to the traditional powerhouses of eastern Europe."
Veer said New Zealand was a sports crazy country and a successful Olympic campaign often had huge impact on the nation’s mood.
"Which, in turn, can lead to increased productivity at work, improved relationships, increased consumer spending and all manner of behaviours that are positive for this nation."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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