sport

Basketball loses Rio funding

The Great Britain basketball team have had their funding for the Rio Olympics cut by UK Sport, along with three other sports.

Basketball's men's and women's teams won reprieves last year but after they failed to meet their targets of qualifying for the world championships, both were stripped of financial support.

Olympic sports synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting also failed to make the cut, while five-a-side football, goalball and wheelchair fencing lost their Paralympics support.

Their funding has been reallocated to sports which the governing body feels have more chance of securing medals at the next set of Games in Brazil.

"Funding has been withdrawn from Basketball, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo and Weightlifting," read an official statement from UK Sport with regard to Olympic funding.

"A new request for funding from Beach Volleyball was rejected (funding for their Small Squad Investment had already been withdrawn prior to the Annual Investment Review due to athlete retirements).

"To date 4.9m has been invested in these sports in the Rio cycle."

UK Sport also confirmed the withdrawal of funding to three Paralympics sports.

"Funding has been withdrawn from Football (5 a side), Goalball and Wheelchair Fencing. To date 1m has been invested in these sports in the Rio cycle," the statement added.

Speaking to Sky Sports, chief executive of UK Sport Liz Nicholl insisted the cuts were difficult but necessary.

"Our investment is focused on sports that can deliver medals, either in Rio or in Tokyo," said Nicholl.

"Unfortunately, the annual review we have just conducted is shining a light on the fact that it is a very remote possibility of a medal from basketball in Rio.

"We are withdrawing funding until such time we are convinced the medal potential is greater.

"If we don't focus on the medallists, we won't have inspirational role-models. If we invest in sports that cannot deliver medals, we will compromise the whole mission and we won't build on the success in London."

But Nicholl offered some hope to sports who have seen their financial support withdrawn, confirming there is a right of appeal open to them.

"We are very open to hearing appeals and want to be sure we are making the right decisions," she added.

"All the sports whose funding has been withdrawn today can come back to our board in the first instance and make representations if they have new performance evidence to be considered."

British Basketball were understandably unhappy with the decision to cut their funding, insisting they were improving and on course to challenge for medals at Tokyo 2020.

"British Basketball is disappointed to confirm that UK Sport has decided neither the men's nor the women's programme will receive funding in the run-up to Rio 2016," they said.

"We understand that they have decided to 'shore up' the funding of sports they judge to have medal prospects in 2016.

"This decision has been taken despite basketball being judged as having a 'green' rating in both UK Sport's own review system, Mission 2016, and its self-assurance audit system."

British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes also stated he was disappointed by the news and confirmed they would consider appealing the decision in order to secure financial support.

"We will now carefully look at our options and, in due course, may well consider a more formal appeal over these devastating decisions," he said in an official statement.