Brexiteers - stop claiming responsibility for Team GB’s success, you’re the reason we’ll fall short in Tokyo 2020

The next Laura Trott and Jason Kenny might just find themselves sitting not in the saddle but on the sofa due to lack of funding, watching someone else’s sublime achievements light up their TV screen

Tom Peck
Saturday 20 August 2016 22:38
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Gold medallists such as Laura Trott and Jason Kenny may be a thing of the past come Brexit
Gold medallists such as Laura Trott and Jason Kenny may be a thing of the past come Brexit

It is hardly surprising that a certain type of Brexiteer, which is to say virtually all of them, should cite Team GB’s Olympic success as I-told-you-so vindication for their own self-harm.

British Olympic success is proof, according to the Ukip-in-disguise campaign group Leave.EU, that we can govern ourselves. If you’ve read this far, I am going to take the liberty of assuming you are able to read, and are therefore sufficiently intellectually trained to not need to have the sheer luminous stupidity of this argument spelled out, other than to say that the British Olympic Association are suing them for it.

Arguably the most dispiriting reality of the most dispiriting moment in our nation’s modern history was the seizing of the national flag by those who were utterly determined to do it terrible harm. Too late now. But with another Games of glorious British success come and almost gone, what Nigel and the Brexwits need to accept is that, when it comes to Olympic sport, they burned their Union Jacks two months ago and they’ve got no right whatsoever to be waving them about now.

Rio 2016 Day 14 highlights in 60 seconds

These are the people, like Ukip’s main financial backer Arron Banks, who have reacted with joy to the news that the ratings agency Moody’s has forecast merely a massive slowdown in the British economy for 2017, and not the full-on recession that had been feared. (Barclays Capital, Nomura and the majority of City of London investment banks are still forecasting recession, but no matter..

When you’re celebrating a huge downturn in your nation’s economy, even if the principle cause for your delight is a thin slither of a chance that it might not be as bad as you thought, you simply don’t get to celebrate in the other, hard and expensively won successes.

We’ve had a recession not that long ago. Back then, London 2012 was looming on the horizon. Making the tough decision on the extravagance that is high performance sport was not an option then. Nor was it in its warm afterglow, when the same large amounts were guaranteed right up to Rio. Host nations always overachieve, then drop away after two or three games – look at China now. In the coming years, this new Government faces impossible choices it never needed to make. The next Laura Trott and Jason Kenny might just find themselves sitting not in the saddle but on the sofa, watching someone else’s sublime achievements light up their TV screen.

If, come Tokyo 2020 and beyond, the Union Flag doesn’t flutter as freely as it has done in these past two magical weeks, don’t be under any illusion about where to apportion the blame, not that it will help.

Farage, Johnson, Gove and the rest: celebrate your victory all you like but spare us the audacity of your phony patriotism. It’s the most nauseating lie of them all.

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