UK Sport today said that a slight redistribution of Lottery funds among the good causes could result in an additional £1 billion for sport over ten years that could be used to help fund the costs of London staging the 2012 Olympic Games.
As the Government continues to examine the feasibility of a London bid ahead of a final decision later this month, UK Sport – the organisation responsible for co-ordinating major events in the UK – said that the move would assist in creating a readymade pool of money to stage the Olympic Games and provide a boost to falling Lottery sales.
"All sports councils are concerned about the underwriting costs that would be required should a bid for the 2012 Olympic Games succeed," explained Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of UK Sport.
"We are unanimous in our views that any funding required should not divert investment away from our core work of supporting participation initiatives and our elite athletes.
"However, by diverting a small proportion of the total amount of Lottery funding made available for all good causes, over ten years the Government could create a new pool of funding – an extra £1 billion. This could be used to help stage the Olympic Games, thereby solving many of the current concerns over where the money will come from.
"UK Sport, in our response to the recent Lottery review, recommended that the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund be merged, rationalising the number of Lottery distributors and cutting down on administration costs. We argued that if this happened, then the Government should revisit the proportions of funding across all of the good causes.
"Channelling just 8.25% of the total Lottery money available into an Olympic fund would realise an additional £1 billion over ten years. This, together with European and Regeneration funding, would provide much of the money needed to stage the Games."
Sir Rodney also cited recent UK Sport research as evidence of the British public’s desire to see Lottery funding used in this way.
"On the eve of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, UK Sport polled a large number of residents in the North West region as part of an ongoing study to assess the Sports Development Impact of the event. A massive 86% of respondents supported the use of Lottery funding for the staging of major sporting events.
"A London Olympic Games in 2012 would benefit the whole of the UK and stimulate a period of unparalleled development in British sport.
"The Olympics would be a hugely popular and high profile beneficiary of the Lottery that, we believe, would regenerate public interest and provide a much-needed boost to falling ticket sales."
In his evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Wednesday afternoon, Sir Rodney Walker reiterated UK Sport’s belief that a London bid could win.
"If there is clear ministerial-led ownership of this project, if all the right bodies work together and if vested interests are set aside, there is absolutely no reason why this country is not capable of both bidding for and succeeding in securing the Olympic Games, and indeed organising a successful event."