PM pledges millions for Team GB at Rio 2016 Olympics


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Indy Politics

David Cameron will today guarantee Lottery funding for Britain's best athletes for four more years in an attempt to confound predictions that the legacy of London 2012 might be squandered before the next Games, in 2016.

The Prime Minister will confirm that elite sportsmen and women will continue to receive hundreds of millions of pounds from the National Lottery and the Government to support their training and facilities in the years up to the Rio Olympics.

The decision will commit £40m from the Treasury and £87m in Lottery funding in 2015-16 and 2016-17. UK Sport's elite programme had previously been promised £125m only for the next two years, prompting concerns that government spending restrictions might limit Team GB's chances of repeating this summer's record-breaking performance in 2016.

But Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, have agreed the "exception" amid mounting criticism of the level of sporting participation across the UK, the continued sell-off of school playing fields and the decision to scrap a target of two hours of physical education a week in schools.

The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has called for two hours of compulsory sport a day for every pupil, while the British Olympic Association chairman, Lord Moynihan, warned that the UK had been "treading water" for seven years over funding for school sports.

Lord Moynihan has also warned that maintaining a predictable level of funding was "critical" to sustained success: "Stop-go funding is a disaster for sport. Countries that have applied that lose."

The promise of financial security for the best Olympic and Paralympic athletes comes after the PM confirmed this weekend that competitive team sports are to be made compulsory for all primary schoolchildren in England. But the shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg, said: "If David Cameron supports primary school sport, why did he abolish Schools Sports Partnerships, which allowed primary schools access to coaches, staff and facilities to do competitive sport?"

Mr Cameron said helping elite athletes win more medals was the best way to inspire the next generation to take part in school sport. He said: "There's a direct link between elite success and participation in sport. I want one of the legacies of these Games to be our athletes triumphing in Rio in 2016 and in future Olympic Games. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens."