At £5.5m per medal, is the Olympics worth the cost?

Mo farah cropped

Rio glory has cost us at least £350m - has it been worth it?

Graham Martin's photo

18th August 2016 by Graham Martin 4 Comments

Is Olympic success worth the cost?

Poll results (total votes: 131)

Is Olympic success worth the cost?

How’s the Olympics going for you?

Are you thrilling to the exploits of Farah, Trott and Kenny – or does the ability of some people to run fast or pedal a bike quite well leave you cold?

Whatever you think of the athletes’ performances, one factor that is hard to ignore is the vast expense of it all.

Following a deliberate strategy, which started after Team GB’s failure at the Atlanta 1996 games, it has been estimated that £350 million has been spent on capturing victories at Rio.

With the medals still coming in, it’s been calculated that every gold has cost us £5.5m.

Much of this has come from lottery funding which, it could be argued, could have been better spent elsewhere.

That’s why we’re asking: is Olympic success worth the cost?

Vote now and get the debate going by leaving a comment.

19th August 2016 by DavieM

Oh here we go...moan moan moan. Honestly, what a bunch of whingers we are in this country. If there was a gold medal for petty-minded derision of success then surely Britain would win it. OK let's cut all the funding to GB elite sport right now - it won't be long until the pelters come out for under-investing in talent and ability.

19th August 2016 by Sheila

Interesting comments DavieM. For some time I have wondered why we are investing in elite sportspeople and not at grassroot level? The figure of £350M of support to sports where they thought there might be medal success was banded about recently. Add to that the cost of BBC coverage and it has been an enormously expensive exercise. I am not whinging but do wonder if it would be better to spend some of the money on improving peoples diets, getting them to eat less fat and sugar and encouraging them to take up some exercise.

22nd August 2016 by DM

It's no surprise to see this as a TFN poll given the views of certain staff at SCVO on this issue. You could set your watch by this debate every four years.Investment in elite sport isn't just in athletes but in the whole structure that produces these athletes from talented youngsters to Olympic Gold medallists. Do we really think Jason Kenny or Laura Trott jumped on a bike a few weeks before Rio and got selected? Does anyone remember the photo of a 12 year old Laura Trott looking so happy wearing Bradley Wiggins Gold Medal from Athens?As for Sheila following the success of GB athletes at the Beijing Olympic games and especially the London Games in 2012 there was boost in sports participation especially across the more "fringe" sports.Also in response to the "expensive" BBC coverage this is naive in the extreme. Tell me any other time in the year that you can watch Dressage followed by Clay shooting and finish up with a bit of Diving? The BBC coverage is one time throughout the sporting calendar we get to watch to sports so rudely ignored the rest of the time.This debate will never cease I guess but as long as we look at this through the narrow lense of £xx million per medal we will ultimately miss the true purpose of investing in elite sporting structures.

25th August 2016 by John McLeod

It is obviously an emotive question as to whether our society should fund elite sport to this extent while there are much more fundamental needs within communities which are not being addressed due to lack of money. However, there are a few points which I think need to be considered on top of the above: - I think I am right in saying that the £350m includes Paralympics funding but the medal count does not include Paralympic medals. - A substantial amount of the £350m goes on 'salaries' and the like which are subject to UK tax. Hence, a reasonable amount returns to the treasury in terms of tax take. - Elite sport provides entertainment and motivation for many others to get active. - The palpable (and badly needed) feel good factor of Britain's success in Rio has (I believe) lifted the whole national mood - even if only short term!Finally, yes - it's a lot of money, but its only about £1 per head of population per annum.