Australia May Gear Government Funding to Prime Sports

SYDNEY, Australia, October 17. FOLLOWING the Beijing Olympic Games, Australia is considering a move that will focus government funding on sports that have a chance to yield medals. Speaking with Inside Sport, Australian Sports Commission Executive Director Mark Peters indicated that the aforementioned philosophy is the way to go.

"Unless there is a major investment of funds for sport, we have no alternative but to go the way of specializing (in sports and events)," Peters said. "That may appear very un-Australian, but it is just the reality of our situation. If we continue at the same investment level, we can either support a whole lot of sports and be mediocre, or we can invest in a smaller number of sports and continue to be successful."

This year, the Australian Sports Commission funded Olympic sports with $60 million, a raise from $33 million last year. Australia was fourth in the overall medal county at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and at the 2004 Games in Athens. However, the nation doesn't put as much money into sports as other countries, including the United States and China.

As one of Australia's most dominant sports on the international scene, swimming figures to benefit, along with cycling. Some of the sports that are likely to suffer if such a move is embraced are badminton, fencing, wrestling and handball. Also, individual sports will be favored because team sports can win only one medal.