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Team GB facing financial crisis ahead of 2012 Olympics

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BOA chief executive Andy Hunt explains the funding gap

By James Pearce
BBC sports news correspondent

The British Olympic Association does not currently have enough money to fund the GB team at the 2012 London Olympics, BBC Sport understands.

An emergency meeting was held last week at which BOA board members were informed about the situation.

The BOA will support about 550 athletes and 450 support staff in London, providing training advice, medical assistance and a holding camp.

"We've still got a gap to close," BOA chief Andy Hunt told BBC Sport.

"I'm absolutely certain we will have a full team at the Games and the money will not affect that.

"The level to which we can support the team is where the challenge comes."

Funding for the BOA comes entirely from commercial sponsorship and fundraising, as it does not receive any money from the government.

The cost of the BOA's responsibilities, which will include the Team GB holding camp in Loughborough, is expected to be well in excess of £5m - and there is a shortfall of several million.

The judgement about the success of the Games is not going to be about the buildings and ceremonies

BOA chief Andy Hunt

Hunt said the success of the 2012 Games would be largely judged on the success of the Great Britain team.

"The work we need to do, to make sure we meet the aspirations of the British people, is an immense task," he said.

"We need to make sure we can really do our best to make sure the team can compete on a level field of play. The British public will judge the success of the Games on the success of the team.

"At the end of the day, you've got to have actors to go on that stage. It's a bit like creating a theatre.

"The actors are the athletes and that's why its so important they are properly supported.

"The judgment about the success of the Games is not going to be about the buildings and ceremonies.

"It will be about the ability to win medals and create those amazing moments that inspire the next generation of heroes."

The BOA signed over the commercial rights to the Olympic rings to the London Organising Committee for about £30m when they won the Games. Hunt was not involved with the BOA at that time and has always argued that these rights are worth more.

But former sports minister Richard Caborn suggested the BOA needed to take a more rigorous look at its finances

"Tens of millions have been put into the British Olympic Association and really they have got to be looking at themselves and say 'why have they got into this situation financially?' and really they ought to be out on the road getting money in from the private sponsors, like everybody else is having to do," said Caborn.

Funding crucial to success says Searle

Greg Searle, the 1992 Olympic rowing gold medallist who is hoping to compete in London at the age of 40, is concerned that a lack of funding could have a detrimental effect on the GB team's chances of success in 2012.

"I think if you start to take away some of the ingredients that have produced success in the past you're definitely putting in doubt the chance of creating that environment where that success then comes through," he said.

"If we don't put that environment together then we absolutely stand a chance of not being as successful as I think we all hope - and even expect - Team GB can be in 2012."



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see also
Olympic sports get funding boost
10 Dec 09 |  Olympics
BOA issues team funding warning
20 Oct 09 |  Olympics
BOA helped out by emergency loan
18 Jun 09 |  Olympics
London 2012 'on time and budget'
23 Apr 09 |  London


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