For more than a decade, the UK has hosted some exceptional sporting events. We have seen an increasing number of world-level performances from athletes representing GB and the home nations both in the UK and abroad.
The 2018 European Championships in Glasgow and Berlin is a new concept that has provided fantastic competition and entertainment across a collection of sports that would normally stage their events in different cities. This initiative, led by colleagues in Scotland, has reached over 13 million viewers on BBC TV, with another 1.1 million streaming it online to watch the likes of Adam Peaty and Dina Asher-Smith in record breaking form. At the same time we have had the Women’s Hockey World Cup at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which drew record crowds with more than 100,000 seats sold. It’s a big step up for hockey in terms of growing its fan base.
This all comes after a fantastic performance from England at the FIFA World Cup in Russia where their run to the semi-final created an overwhelming sense of joy and unity across the nation. England Manager Gareth Southgate deserved the huge credit he received for the way he led the team.
Here at UK Sport, the focus is to “inspire the nation through Olympic and Paralympic sport” by driving and showcasing world-class success, working with the people directly responsible for delivery to enable them to succeed. We know that for many people, seeing athletes representing our nation compete and win against the very best in the world creates immense national pride and a real sense of ambition. In our Paralympic sports, it is particularly special to see the athletic ability as opposed to the disability.
Medal results at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 and at our Winter Games speak for themselves and over these Olympics and Paralympics, we have seen an increase in medals, medallists and the number of sports that know how to win gold medals. Since those special Games in 2012, we have also been focusing more on activating “inspiration” but we know we could potentially do more. Very few will be aware that our Olympic and Paralympic funded athletes have undertaken more than 30,000 visits to schools and communities across the UK since 2012.
But it is important not to be complacent. As an investor of significant public funds in elite sport, it is right that we should check in with the general public to ask whether you want us to continue aiming to inspire the nation through medal success and whether we should change our focus in any way. Our investments are already confirmed for Tokyo 2020 and we are confident that we have the potential to build on success to date but on 4 June, we launched a public consultation inviting feedback to shape the future investment strategy for elite sport in the UK in the years following the Tokyo 2020 as we move towards Paris 2024. We have called for a wide and open debate and we genuinely welcome all contributions. If you have an interest in elite sport we want to hear from you.
The consultation is due to close on 19 August and so there is still time to contribute. Over 2,500 individuals or organisations have already had their say and we’d like to hear from lots more. Our Board will use the evidence from the consultation, alongside other commissioned research, to develop our future strategy which will be announced early next year.
One of the strengths of our system compared to many in the world is our advanced planning so that we can activate a new strategy immediately after one Games and maintain the momentum to the next. So Paris 2024 would be the first test of any new strategy. Help us to get it right, for the nation.
Take part here.