UK Sport under fire following wheelchair rugby funding cuts

By Joe Hewlett

UK Sport are facing  backlash after deciding to cut all their funding towards wheelchair rugby for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games.

Last month, UK Sport decided Wheelchair Rugby, alongside four other sports, are losing all their funding ahead of the 4-year cycle for the games in Japan.

Chief executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby has labelled the situation as ‘catastrophic’ for the sport.

He exclusively told Yorkshire Voice: “Without funding, it would just not be possible to maintain a GB team which could compete with the best in the world and it is unlikely that GB could take part in the 2018 World Championships or the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

“I am not in a position to judge one way or another (on claims of discrimination towards the sport). It would however be interesting to understand how UK Sport has evaluated other team sports such as men’s hockey and modern pentathlon and concluded that they merit continued funding when their performance record and potential is not as strong as wheelchair rugby.

“We have presented what we believe to be strong performance data as part of our formal representation for the UK Sport board to consider,” he said.

All five sports including the medal winning  badminton team, have appealed the decision and will learn their outcome at the start of February.

“We are on track to win a medal for the nation in Tokyo,” said Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy told BBC Sport.

“We know funding from UK Sport is not a right and that it has to be earned, but leading up to, and in Rio, we have regularly demonstrated that we are able to beat the best players and pairings in the world,” he said.

The three other sports to have their funding cut are weight lifting, fencing and archery.

All teams will find out the fate of their appeals on February 6.

 

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