Major sportsbooks like DraftKings are known for having an array of popular sports available for bettors to make a wager. These include basketball, football, cricket, tennis and even Formula 1.
But what about all those not so well-known sports that have competed in the Olympics, that have athletes who have trained for most of their lives so that they can bring honor to their country and family? The covid pandemic not only delayed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by almost an entire year, but it has had major repercussions for these sports and the people involved in them, even long after the games have finished.
One of the countries whose players and competitors were affected the most was Great Britain. Even today, so many sports that participated in the Tokyo games (and won!), are struggling to secure funding so that they can focus on training and have access to the equipment and training centers that are so desperately needed.
Another country that is suffering yet placing enormous pressure on its athletes to perform is India. A corrupt government and underfunding, means these men and women are struggling to make their mark on a global scale in their chosen sport. The difference, though, is that India does excel in many international sports that are not Olympic related – cricket being one of them
This is a far cry from countries like China, for instance, whose government pours millions into facilities and recruiting the youth so that they can dedicate their lives to becoming the best and taking home that coveted gold.
Tokyo 2020-A Lose-Lose For Four Olympic and One Paralympic Sports
Even after winning the Bronze in the Rio Olympics in 2016, Badminton had all funding pulled ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, followed by weightlifting, archery, fencing and wheelchair rugby. The badminton team of Great Britain had one goal in Rio – to win a medal – and they fulfilled it by taking home Bronze in the men’s doubles. Their funding at that time was £5.74 million.
The GB team in cycling won an impressive 12 medals in Rio 2016, but still had their funding cut by more than £4 million to £25.98 million. These cuts came as a shock to many sports teams, considering the unprecedented success Britain achieved at Rio – a total of 214 medals in both the Olympics and Paralympics.
Some of the most popular Olympic sports like Basketball, volleyball and handball had already felt the brunt of this, as their funding was pulled in 2014.
UK Sport explained their reasoning to the media, saying that under-investing across all fields would mean that everyone would not perform at their peak and all British teams will subsequently suffer. It’s a matter of selecting those sports that they feel would stand the best chance against other countries in Tokyo. The priority was always how to improve medal potential.
A Triumph For The Underdog
Despite this, or maybe even because of it, weightlifting excelled. Rather, 27-year-old Emily Campbell (who only started weightlifting five years ago), won a silver in the Tokyo 2020 games. Since no funding was available, she relied on her own fundraising, as well as that of her small community in Bulwell, Nottingham and it’s safe to say their support has paid off tenfold.
Bethany Shriever is 22 and has the misfortune of being born a female and wanting to compete in a male-dominated sport – BMX. After UK Sport announced in 2017 that only male riders would be given funding, Shriever crowdfunded, worked as a teaching assistant and got her folks to help out. By doing this she managed to compete on the European Circuit and only after she had become incredibly successful, did British Cycling find money in 2019 for her to prepare for the Olympics.
UK Sport Need To Rise To The Occasion
This Olympic and Paralympic success in Tokyo has done what it needed to do – fill a new generation’s heart with dreams of gold, silver and bronze. Sadly though, the underfunding issues still persist. Sporting centers, swimming pools and athletics tracks in and around the country are nearing the end of their lives, and there are no new areas being constructed.
Skating and BMX parks are closing down. For instance, the Rush indoor skateboard park, where young medalist Sky Brown practised her way to glory and where many young stars should be eagerly flocking to start pursuing their skateboarding dreams shut its doors. Instead, the building is being demolished to make way for a block of flats.
These are just some of the issues facing future Olympians, and the stats do not look promising. UK Sport has to show up for their athletes as they have shown up for the country, or 2024 looks to be in bad shape.