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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 16:26 UK

Sports Minister makes 2012 pledge

Lord Moynihan, Lord Coe, Boris Johnson and Hugh Robertson
Robertson (right) joined fellow politicians and volunteers at the Olympic Park

Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister, has pledged to ensure British athletes have funding to be competitive at the London Games in two years' time.

The coalition government is looking at ways to cut departmental spending in an attempt to reduce the budget deficit.

But Robertson told BBC Radio 5 live: "I am determined to make sure we give our athletes the best possible chance.

"If one thing is left standing in the comprehensive spending review it will be elite athlete funding for 2012."

As Olympic bosses celebrated two years to go until the Games begin, British sport's funding body warned that cuts in its budget could have an impact on performances.

When we know what the final settlement figure is, I will make calculations ... and ensure our athletes have the very best possible chance of competing at London 2012

Hugh Robertson

UK Sport performance director Peter Keen told Radio 5 live: "We know there is not much scope for changing anything without impacting on performance.

"We still don't know exactly what the current round of spending cuts to that exchequer part of our budget will be."

Reports on Tuesday suggested that the figure of around £80m per year that UK Sport receives from the government to pass on to Olympic sports may be cut by half.

Robertson added: "When we know what the final settlement figure is, I will make calculations over how much lottery funding we add to that, how much private funding, and ensure our athletes have the very best possible chance of competing at London 2012."

Keen said exchequer funding was "50% of the total budget that we now pass on to sports" - worth around £320m over the course of the four-year Olympic cycle.

606: DEBATE

He insisted that if there were budget cuts, UK Sport would have to cut their cloth accordingly.

"We are pretty confident that the bulk of investment already in place will be there up to London and beyond," he added.

"We will know in the autumn, what, if any is the change in the current programme. There's bound to be an impact if there's a significant reduction in investment.

"We know what it costs to do this properly and we will do everything we can to make certain that where we think we are closest to achieving medals and success in London, we will invest selectively.

"If we don't have all the budget we currently have we will have to make those tough calls and I think that's something we are quite comfortable doing.

"We know that is how elite sport has to work. It doesn't necessarily please everybody but we will always target our investments to get the greatest result with the most number of athletes.

Hoy does first lap of 2012 velodrome

"We will only be able to support the athletes we have the resources for. If it's less than we currently have we will have to look at the sports that are furthest from the podium and have the least chance of success. That's only reasonable and only rational. One hopes it doesn't come to that."

Hopes that Team GB would field a team in every sport in London were hit at the start of last year when eight Olympic sports had funding slashed because of a £50m budget shortfall.

And Sir Chris Hoy, who won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, has also called on Olympic sports to be spared savage cuts this time around.

"It's important to invest in sport. It's important for the success of the nation to be doing well in home Games and for future generations," said Hoy, who played a key role in the two-year countdown celebrations for the 2012 Games at the Olympic Park on Tuesday.

"For many reasons it's important to invest in sport. Lottery funding came on board in 1998 just when I was finishing university and it could not have come at a better time for me.

"I personally benefited massively from that and the public can stake a claim to being part of all the success we have had because they have essentially funded Olympic sport in this country."



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see also
Countdown excites Olympic stars
27 Jul 10 |  London 2012
Two years to go - events as they happened
27 Jul 10 |  London 2012
In photos: London 2012 countdown
27 Jul 10 |  London 2012


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