Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

'No quota' over Olympic honours

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson said the sports honours committee were restricted in the number of awards they could make

Downing Street has insisted that there is no quota for the award of honours to Britain's gold medal-winning Olympic athletes.

The success of Team GB - with 43 athletes collecting gold and more expected in the Paralympics - has prompted speculation some could miss out in the New Year Honours List.

The most senior civil servant at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport cautioned at the weekend there would be no "automatic gong" for winning gold in the London Games.

Jonathan Stephens said the sports honours committee - which makes recommendations for awards - would be looking to recognise those who "put something back" as well as succeeding in their chosen event.

On Monday, No 10 rejected reports that new rules drawn up by the head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake - who chairs the main honours committee - meant there was a limit to the number of honours which could go to Team GB.

"Honours are awarded on merit, not according to quotas," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

However his comments appeared at odds with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson - the former Paralympic gold medallist who now sits on the sports honours committee - who said they were restricted in the number of awards they could make.

In a normal year, she said, they would be restricted to one or two knighthoods, "a few more" CBEs and between 45 to 50 MBEs - the lowest tier in the honours system. We do have a limit on the numbers that we can award each year. I think that is where we are trying to manage expectation," she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he hoped as many medallists as possible would be recognised this time around.

"Honours are awarded on merit, but there has been a lot of merit this year. I would like to see as many of those amazing medallists rewarded as possible but obviously it has to be done at arm's length from ministers," he told Sky News.

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