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Rio Olympics: Medal success is costly but still good value, says UK Sport boss Liz Nicholl

By Jack de Menezes

The feel-good factor of Britain's success took little time to wear off after it emerged that each medal at the Games had cost £4.1m in funding over the past four years, but how much has that actually cost the average tax payer?

Britain secured a record medal haul in Rio, with their tally of 67 medals just surpassing the 65 claimed at London 2012.

Not only was the 2016 Olympic Games the most successful overseas tournament in Team GB's history, but it was their most successful ever.

Yet an economical debate has been triggered after it emerged that each medal won in Rio - 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronzes - came at a price of £4,096,500 in National Lottery and exchequer funding over the four-year Olympic cycle.

However, Sport Industry Research Centre have broken down that figure, and discovered that the success in Rio has cost each individual Briton just £1.09 per year in public funding.

As Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, explained, "the funding is worth its weight in gold".

Former Winter Olympics athlete Jamie Fox, who competed in both skiing and snowboarding for Great Britain before taking up a media role with British athletics, highlighted that the cost was less than what commuters pay for a single bus journey in London.

The increase in funding has a direct impact on medal success at each Olympic Games.

When just £5m per year was invested into Olympic sports leading up to Atlanta 1996, Britain won just one gold medal and 15 overall to languish down in 36th place in the medal table, but as funding has increased with each Olympic cycle, so has Team GB's final position.

Team GB will return to the UK to celebrate their success with a parade through Manchester, although a second celebration is already being planned for London four years after the 2012 Olympians revelled in their success at their home Games.

Having finished second in the Olympic medal table - behind the United States and above Olympic rivals such as China and Russia - Britain are already looking to build on their success and are targeting even better results at Tokyo 2020, with funding plans already underway.

"It enables us to strategically plan for the next Games even before this one has started and makes sure we don't lose any time," Nicholl added.

"We can maintain the momentum of success for every athlete with medal potential through to the next Games."

Next year's World Athletics Championships in London will be a crucial guage of Team GB's progress on the road to Tokyo.

Team GB collected a total of 67 medals at the Rio Olympics - 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronzes. It is estimated that each medal cost approximately £4.1m

Belfast Telegraph


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