Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2007
Chairman: Can I apologise for keeping
you waiting; nevertheless, welcome Lord Moynihan, Chairman of
the British Olympic Association and Simon Clegg, Chief Executive,
and Phil Lane of the British Paralympic Association. Philip Davies
is going to start.
Q220 Philip Davies:
Could you tell us how much input the BOA and the BPA had in setting
medal targets for Beijing and London?
Mr Clegg: The British Olympic
Association have set absolutely no medal targets for Beijing at
this stage, but we were primarily responsible for driving the
medal target for Team GB at London 2012, after we called a meeting
of all of the National Governing Bodies and all the agencies involved
in elite sport six days after we returned from Singapore after
London won the right to host the Games, to address specifically
the challenges that we would face in London 2012. The agreement
that we reached was that it was right and proper that as a country
we should aspire to be the best that we could be in the context
of hosting the Games in 2012, and with this in mind the target
was set for fourth place, which will require Great Britain to
deliver, at this moment in time, 20 gold medals, but our expectation
is that by 2012, to secure fourth place in the medal table we
will have to win 18 gold medals.
Mr Lane: I can say for the Paralympics
actually that we were not. There was a fairly simple calculation
done somewhere that if you were second last time with a bit more
investment you would be first next time. That obviously discounted
the fact that China was competing. We have been fairly consistent
in our position that we feel we aspire to remain a top five nation
with an overall higher aspiration of finishing in the top three,
where we have consistently been over the years. We think that
is realistic for us as a nation, a small nation in Paralympic
terms, and we believe that with the right levels of investment,
which are now beginning to appear, we should now be able to continue
in that position.
Q221 Philip Davies:
A couple of weeks ago we had representatives from athletics, swimming
and cycling, who were emphasising to us how hard fought these
medals would be. Do you still think that fourth place is a realistic
target for the UK at those Games?
Mr Clegg: Absolutely. One of the
things that we did shortly after coming back from Singapore was
to initiate a publication, which I believe all Members of the
Committee receive on an annual basis, called Countdown to 2012.
That gave us an ability to model, to bring together the individual
performances of each of the sports and the disciplines that will
be part of the 2012 sports programme, and bring these together
in a relative Olympic medal table. This allows us on an annual
basis to monitor the progress which British sport is making. You
will have seen from the last two annual reports that you have
received that had the Games been staged in 2005 or 2006, and based
upon the individual results from the governing body World Championship's
results, Great Britain would have effectively finished in seventh
place in the medal table in both 2005 and 2006. We are confident
still that our aspirational target of fourth place in 2012 is
still achievable and entirely appropriate.
Lord Moynihan: It might be helpful
if I add to that that as a result of that initial meeting, post-Singapore,
the BOA sat down with UK Sport and worked to deliver a budget
which we felt was necessary to support the delivery of that target
in 2012 that you have heard Simon elaborate on. That then led
to discussions with DCMS; DCMS in turn then presented their case
to the Treasury and I think for the first time in my lifetime
in sports politics the Treasury supported that total budget request
in full. So the financing was therefore put in place to assist
the governing bodies in delivering the services to their athletes
that would be necessary to see us move towards fourth place by
Q222 Philip Davies:
Competition seems to be getting fiercer in sport, and to give
you an example over the weekend I was at a swimming gala in my
constituency where a 13-year-old girl competing had been selected
for the squad of Olympic people for 2012 because she was showing
such potential. But she has very little access to swimming pool
time; there are no 50 metre swimming pools in Bradford and so
she has very little opportunity to use those facilities. Given
that basic lack of facilities that people need do you not see
that as being quite a big constraint on such an ambitious target?
Mr Clegg: We have to look at it
in its totality. There are 35 sports at the moment in the Olympic
Movement, reducing to 33 sports after 200828 of those sports
reducing to 26 are summer sportsand we do need to look
at it across the whole. What Lord Coe said earlier on is absolutely
right, that not only in London but across the country we do not
have the quality and the range of facilities that many other leading
sporting nations do, but it is important that we constantly look
to address that issue and to put in place the best possible support
mechanisms for these athletes. That is something that we are working
on with the other agencies to ensure that every talented athlete
in this country who has the potential to compete and represent
our country in 2012 is given every opportunity of reaching their
full potential. There are some constraints, of course there are,
and we need to work around those to ensure that we give everyone
the best chance of success.
Q223 Philip Davies:
Finally, our target for Beijing is that we will finish eighth
in the medal table. If we either do worse or better in Beijing
than that will that be an indicator of how well or badly we may
do in 2012 or are each Olympic Games completely different from
Mr Clegg: Can I be very clear
we have not set a target and under the Olympic Charter it is our
exclusive responsibility to select, prepare, lead and manage the
British Team (Team GB) at the Olympic Games. We will set the target
based on the ongoing discussions that we will be having with our
governing bodies, as we have done at previous Games, and determine
where and if it is appropriate to set a target for Beijing. So
no target has been set at this moment in time.
Mr Lane: If I may, can I just
say that in Paralympic terms it is a much less clear picture across
the piece and in fact achieving the targets that have been in
the public domain are much more demanding because it is not a
simple landscape. There may be no 50 metre pools in Bradford but
I suspect there are very few provisions for young disabled athletes
to participate in Bradford either, and that is the picture across
the country. Of course, we have a much more complex picture than
that in that our sports are based on various classifications and
therefore if we do not have athletes within those classifications
to compete we cannot compete for the medals. So, irrespective
of how many medals are available we still may not be able to compete
for all of them in the way that our Olympic team possibly can.
There is a fairly new dimension in terms of Paralympicsthe
competition is growing exponentially and by Beijing over 160 nations
will be participating compared to about 120 in Sydney, and we
expect more than that in London in 2012. So actually the level
of competition is growing exponentially and if you look at the
Athens' table countries like the Ukraine were running in fifth
and sixth place. That is fairly unheard of, I suspect, if you
look across some of the more Olympic sports. So it is a more challenging
target to maintain for Paralympic sport in particular.
Q224 Philip Davies:
You have set a target for the 2012 Olympics; it seems a bit surprising
that you have not yet set a target for next year's Olympics. When
will you be getting around to addressing that target and will
you address the issue of whether you hit or miss that target in
Beijing will have an impact on the chances of us hitting our target
Mr Clegg: We have to accept that
a number of our sports are already delivering to capacity. With
a very regular occurrence we are delivering consistent medal success
at the Olympic Games in sports like rowing, cycling and sailingthose
types of sports. In the context of trying to achieve our aspirational
goal of fourth place in the medal table in 2012, we are going
to have to find other sports who are traditionally outside the
medal zone to contribute towards our medal tally, and that is
why sports like judo, triathlon, and taekwondo are so important.
So actually what we need to be doing is measuring their improvement
on the journey to 2012 to see if we are likely to hit that aspirational
target that we have set. So it is not all about the number of
gold medals that we achieve in Beijing next year, it is about
looking at the whole team over all 302 Olympic medal opportunities
that there will be in Beijing to see what progress we are making
collectively towards that goal.
Lord Moynihan: I think that is
right. If I can add to that, Beijing is seen very much as a stepping
stone towards London 2012; that is one of the advantages of being
a host nation. We need to see improvements in the areas that Simon
has outlined. The question is wholly valid. There is no exact
science that automatically delivers us any given place in the
medal table. Perhaps the best example of that is five of the gold
medals Team GB won at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games; Chris Hoy's
one kilometre time trial, Kelly Holmes' 800 and 1500 metre gold
medals, the coxless four's gold medal and the men's four x100m
relay gold medal. If you took those five gold medals and you substitute
all five for the second place, for silver medals, the collective
time between all five being gold medals from five silvers, it
was 0.545 of one second in over 13 minutes of finals. That is
like running from Fleet Street to here if you are fit and healthy,
and the distance being the length of this table between five gold
and five silver medals, and that would have moved us from tenth
place in the medal table to seventeenth. So what that tells the
British Olympic Association, and indeed everybody who is there
to support the athletes, is that no stone must be left unturned
in delivering the best possible services and support to all our
Olympic athleteseverybody in that teamto ensure
that we not only recognise the 0.545 rule that is imprinted on
our minds but that we give every possible world leading support
mechanism to those athletes and those coaches and to those governing
bodies. As Lord Coe mentioned earlier, it is for the governing
bodies to be empowered to deliver that success because it is athletes
that win the gold medals and not the BOA officials, UK Sport employees
or, dare I say it, even Members of this eminent Committee. Therefore,
we have to make sure that every day we focus on delivering absolutely
world leading support services to each and every athlete.
Mr Clegg: Finally on that point,
if I may, just to re-emphasise the point I was making about some
sports already competing to capacity, if British Cycling was a
nation and delivered the same results at the 2004 Olympic Games
as they did at this year's World Championships they would have
been ranked seventeenth in the overall medal table in Athens.
Chairman: Alan Keen.
Q225 Alan Keen:
I agree with everything you said about the up and coming sports
like taekwondo and the others you mentioned. What is it that you
have been doing about these sports that have no base whatsoever
in this country and yet are Olympic sports? What have you been
doing about those sports?
Mr Clegg: You are talking about
sports right at the extreme of the spectrum and one of the challenges
for us obviously is to bring them up to a standard where we feel
that we are justified in entering them for the Games in 2012.
Of course, by virtue of being the host nation we get automatic
qualification in all of the team sports, but some of our team
sports are very under-developedtake handball as a very
good example. I was with the British Handball Team earlier in
the year at their national conference in Leeds, and it is really
exciting from our perspective to see how this initiative has been
grasped by them and how it is raising the whole levels of performance,
and now we have British handball players embedded in clubs in
Denmark. We are seeing all sorts of new athletes coming into the
sport who had never heard about handball before. As a direct result
of staging the Games in 2012, we are also seeing some cross-fertilisation
between sports as athletes see that there is an opportunity, where
perhaps in their chosen sport they realised they were never going
to quite make it, they could be an Olympic athlete in 2012 in
a different sport. So whether that sport can get to the standard
that we believe will be necessarybecause I am sure you
would accept there is no point in us taking a quota place to enter
a men's handball team if they get beaten 56-nil, 56-nil, 56-nil
in the round-robin competition. That is not in anyone's interestsit
is not in the athletes' interests, it is not in the sport's interests
and it is not in the British Team's interests. But we will do
everything to support them as a service organisation. The British
Olympic Association is a membership organisation; my Chairman
and I are accountable to sport, to the governing bodies and we
are there to provide services to support them to ensure that they
are given every opportunity of reaching their full potential.
Q226 Alan Keen:
I thought it was a crackpot scheme, if you do not mind me saying.
Handball is played, is softball in the Games? Softball was in
Mr Clegg: Softball is actually
one of our more competitive team sports within the Olympic programme.
Once again, we very narrowly failed to qualify to send a team
to Beijing. Regrettably, particularly because it is a sport for
women only, softball will be dropped from the programme together
with baseball after the Games in Beijing; it is the first time
since 1936 that the Olympic Movement has lost a sport.
Q227 Alan Keen:
When we are so desperate to get medals is it not a waste of money
to put money into these very, very minor sports? I love the Olympic
culture and tradition but it just seems to be relatively a lot
of money to spend when we are so desperate for every halfpenny
we can try to keep under the budgeted figure.
Mr Clegg: We are an Olympic family
and it was the entire British Olympic familythe British
Olympic Associationthat subscribed to putting a bid forward
for London 2012 including, I have to say, all of the winter sports.
The Mission Statement that we have as an organisation is to lead
the largest and most successful team to fourth place in the medals
table in 2012, whilst developing the Olympic Movement in the UK.
Therefore, there will be an expectation by the International Olympic
Committee that we will be a very large team because actually how
are we going to sell handball tickets in 2012 if there is not
even a British team participating? So it is right and proper that
as the host nation we should aspire to fielding the full team
of 755 athletes in the British team in 2012.
Q228 Alan Keen:
I have forgotten now: does the host nation have the opportunity
to add a sport?
Mr Clegg: No.
Lord Moynihan: Sadly not, no.
Mr Clegg: That is entirely within
the gift of the IOC Executive Committee.
Q229 Alan Keen:
That is a shame; darts could have been something worth putting
Mr Clegg: Eton Fives I think is
something we might win a gold medal in!
Chairman: Rosemary McKenna.
Q230 Rosemary McKenna:
My bid is for netball! Can I raise the issue again that I raised
previously about the intellectually disabled athletes who were
barred in Singapore? The organisation itself has brought in very
stringent rules and is appealing to have the ban removed. What
are you doing to help that so that they can take part?
Mr Lane: I can say that our position
has been very clear right from the Sydney Games that we believe
wholeheartedly that athletes with an intellectual disability should
be part of the Games, but they need to be part of the Games under
fair and consistent rules which are comparable to those of the
other disability organisations. Just to put it into context for
you, just to give you some numbers, in fact we are only talking
about seven athletes in Atlanta and eight in Sydney. So as a percentage
of the team as a whole it is not a huge number. However, that
being said we are very consistent in our approach and we have
urged the IPC and INAS FID, the international body for intellectual
disabilities to deal with this issue, and I think as Paul Deighton
said earlier whilst we were at the General Assembly in Seoul only
in this past fortnight we in fact introduced an amendment to an
Icelandic motion urging the IPC to set a target of 2012 for readmission
and to make that decision early so that the necessary funding
could be put in place for those athletes to prepare. So that decision
will need to be taken by January 2009 at the latest in order to
make sure that those athletes can adequately prepare, and we certainly
would urge IPC and INAS FID to carry on with that and we would
certainly urge UK Sport and the other funders to be consistent
in making preparations for that to happen too.
Q231 Rosemary McKenna:
Are they failing to get funding just now because they not eligible?
Mr Lane: They are indeed, yes.
Q232 Rosemary McKenna:
UK Sport is not able to fund them because they are ineligible
at the moment. So the sport is failing because that support is
Mr Lane: Yes. I think it is a
bit of a vicious circle and it is one which is highly regrettable.
They are a significant part of our population and we abhor discrimination
of any kind.
Q233 Rosemary McKenna:
Absolutely and I just know the joy that the people from my area
get out of competing in the Special Olympics, which are quite
different and separatequite, quite separate.
Mr Lane: Very much so.
Q234 Rosemary McKenna:
Very, very much so, but these are athletes with tremendous ability
who should be taking part in the Paralympics.
Mr Lane: We would agree with you
wholeheartedly not least because we believe they will win medals
too, so that will add to our medal targets.
Rosemary McKenna: Exactly. Thank you.
Chairman: Mike Hall.
Q235 Mr Hall:
The fundamental issue about setting targets is that you really
have to achieve them. There is no point taking weak targets but
if you set tougher targets they seem to fail, so it is a real
minefield. The approach we have to this is that we are going to
spend an awful lot of money on it, are we not? We are giving Sir
Clive Woodward's Elite Performance Service more than a generous
amount of money to encourage our elite athletes£150,000
per elite athlete. Is that figure right?
Mr Clegg: I am sorry, Mr Hall,
I do not think you are giving anything to Sir Clive Woodward's
programme. The British Olympic Association will fund the Elite
Performance Programme that is developed under Clive Woodward's
leadership and we are entirely responsible for securing the funding
from the commercial sector.
Q236 Mr Hall:
I understand that, but it is £150,000 per year per athlete,
Mr Clegg: That is the budget figure
that we are working on, yes.
Q237 Mr Hall:
With the UK Sport's World Class Podium they are spending about
£75,000 per athlete; so are we expecting twice as much from
Sir Clive Woodward's programme than the UK Sport programme?
Mr Clegg: It is a complementary
programme. What we are doing is identifying some of the world's
leading practitioners and bringing them over to this country to
work with a small number of athletes, with the support of UK Sport,
to ensure, as my Chairman said earlier on, no stone is left unturned
in making sure that the whole country can be proud of the performance
of the British team in 2012. That is our contribution to that
Q238 Mr Hall:
You said they are complementary; they are not competing for the
same amount of money then from the private sector?
Mr Clegg: Absolutely not. The
British Olympic Association traditionally derives all of its funding
from the commercial sector. We are the custodians of the Olympic
Rings and we will work in an exclusive basis with a limited number
of supporters of the Olympic Movement both internationally and
domestically. We are very restricted in terms of the commercial
partners that we can work with.
Lord Moynihan: If I might just
add to that, the reason why the funding is so complementary is
because the £600 million package that was announced by the
then Chancellor of the Exchequer cum Prime Minister is made up
of Lottery money, government funding and a proportion from sponsorship.
The funding of the Woodward programme is from the TOP sponsors
and the Tier One sponsors which have bought the Olympics rights,
either from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne
in the case of the TOP sponsors, or the first tier sponsors from
LOCOG, and so we have looked to that group who wish, in addition
to have the benefit of the rights, also to fund and support the
athletes. So it is a completely different market than the £100
million market that the Government will be targeting because they
have no rights to sell.
Q239 Mr Hall:
What about UK Sports though? I am not quite getting my head around
this. Clive Woodward's programme is £150,000 per elite athlete,
UK Sport's is £75,000; it is not the same amount of money
and it is not the same athletes, but yet it is a complementary
Mr Clegg: We are looking to work
with a very small number of athletes, though of course the World
Class Performance Plan goes over all of the summer sports in the
programme, all 26, and goes through a number of levels as well.
We are looking to work with the athletes that we believe will
be on the podium in 2012 because I think we need to be very clear
that generally speaking the man or the woman on the streets of
this country would judge the success of the Games in London not
by how efficient the transport runs in London, not by how beautifully
architecturally designed the stadiums are, but by how many British
athletes stand on the podium with medals round their neck. That
is a very serious responsibility that we at the British Olympic
Association shoulder and we need to work, as we are working, in
very close collaboration with the government agency to ensure
that every athlete, as I keep saying, is given the opportunity
of reaching their full potential.
Lord Moynihan: It is complementary
and it is additive. What you are doing is having a strong programme
through a governing body for an individual athlete, through the
UK Sport programme, and then over and above that a support mechanism
of Clive Woodward's programme, which they would not have if Clive
Woodward's programme did not exist. So the reason why the Australians
have recently responded by looking with a degree of envy at this
additional programme is because nowhere amongst the National Olympic
Committees which I have discussed this with, is there a programme
that is so comprehensively focused right at the top, which effectively
removes in many respects the potential for losing. It takes risks
away, this programme, the elements which cause greater uncertainty
about an athlete's performance at the very top level. It is highly
scientific; it is wholly complementary to the overall funding
of the sports, a point that has been looked at by the Minister,
Gerry Sutcliffe, on three occasions with Clive Woodward when he
has presented to Gerry Sutcliffe; a point that has been recognised
and supported by UK Sport when they were present in the form of
their Chair at the launch of the Woodward programme recently.
And it is a very specific programme looking at the athletes who
we are expecting to deliver gold and to de-risk the chances that
they will not deliver, and I would welcome Members of the Committee
at some stage to have a presentation from Clive Woodward and come
over and see him working with one or two of the sports so that
you can see how this works in practice. I think that it might
be of great interest to you and we would be more than happy to
organise that possibly with the first sport that he is going to
be working with, namely judo.