Australia gold medal Olympians

(L-R) Alec Potts, Ryan Tyack and Taylor Worth of Australia celebrate with their bronze medals in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Men’s Team competition. (Image: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Plans for a new online lottery in Australia are being proposed to help the country’s underperforming sportsmen and women.

The boss of the Australian Sports Commission wants a new lottery set up to help pump $50 million into sports programmes across the country.

John Wylie wants Australia to suck it up and look over to the other side of the world where their British rivals are crushing Olympic sports like tennis and cycling.

“If we are to remain competitive internationally, if we are going to have a healthy and active society, we need to invest significantly more in the system,” Wylie told The Australian this week.

ASC funding has been slashed by the government to $282 million over the past year, some $30 million down on the previous year. Federal cuts are to blame, and Mr. Wylie wants lottery players Down Under to fill the gap.

“We are seriously underfunded compared to the UK and others,” he added.

UK A Beacon Of Sports Funding

Since the British government introduced a National Lottery in the mid-1990s (the UK’s first lottery of any kind), a portion of jackpots has gone to help the UK’s struggling sportsmen.

Lottery funding began to be ploughed into Olympic training facilities, and the moves have paid dividends.

In 1996, at the Olympics in Atlanta, Great Britain & Northern Ireland finished below Ethopia, Algeria and North Korea with 15 medals and just one gold. The same year, Australia finished 7th with 9 golds, 9 silvers, and 23 bronze medals.

Four years later in Sydney, Australia finished a best-ever fourth with 16 golds, 25 silver, and 17 bronze. Lottery funding was showing results in the UK, however, as GB ended 10th in the medal table with 11 golds.

But in Beijing in 2008, GB & NI surpassed Australia, ending the Summer Olympics fourth with 47 medals. Australia dipped to sixth on 46 medals and 14 golds.

Great Britain and Australia have gone in opposite directions since then, with London 2012 and Rio 2016 both disappointing for the green and gold boys and girls.

Olympic Medals Since UK National Lottery Funding

Atlanta 1996
GB golds – 1 (total 15)
Australia golds – 9 (total 41)

Sydney 2000
GB golds – 11 (total 28)
Australia golds – 16 (total 58)

Athens 2004
GB golds – 9 (total 30)

Australia golds – 17 (total 50)

Beijing 2008
GB golds – 19 (total 47)
Australia golds – 14 (total 46)

London 2012
GB golds – 29 (total 65)

Australia golds – 8 (total 35)

Rio 2016
GB golds – 27 (total 67)
Australia golds – 8 (total 29)

Grants And Funding On The Decline

State lotteries currently give money to good causes. However, in 2016 many of the largest grants were given to film production and arts.

In August, WA’s Lotterywest gave almost $8 million to ScreenWest Inc to help towards the development of TV and film production in Western Australia. The same amount was given to the 2017 Perth International Arts Festival.

NSW’s ‘Lucky Lotteries’ have been used to help develop the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge in years gone by. Tatts Lottery games help community organisations and hospitals through its Community Program. However, sports groups have been denied the biggest chunks, and government funding is set to fall even further.

Australia’s sportsmen are already in the doldrums, with the cricket side humiliated this month against South Africa.

But an Aussie coach who helped Britain improve its showing in the swimming pool said the Australian Sports Commission was guilty of mis-allocating its funds.

Citing governance and leadership issues, Mr. Wylie confirmed that the ASC was looking into the way its elite programs are managed.