An interesting debate raised in Parliament by Michael Foster on the funding provided by London’s winning bid for the 2012 Olympics, and its’ possible implications to non-Olympic sports such as cricket:
Sport will have a major boost over the next few years with the Olympic games coming to London, but may I ask my right hon. Friend to do what he can to ensure that non-Olympic sports such as cricket are not excluded from the increased resources and increased participation in which, I hope, this development will result? With that in mind, will he arrange for a debate on the future of state school cricket, so that we can look at ways of making it far more competitive, and put it on an equal footing with the cricket played in the independent sector?
Leader of the House of Commons, and former Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, replied:
I once tried to demonstrate how cricket is played to my American family, with conspicuous lack of success. It is certainly important that, in providing the extra funding that goes to sport, such funding is associated not only with the Olympic bid, but with the Government’s overall programme for supporting sporting excellence in this country and that we do not neglect sports such as cricket, which are clearly hugely important to the people of the United Kingdom.
Although cricket in the UK has received better support and funding in recent years, it is still a minority sport compared even to Rugby (and, inevitably / especially, football). With the Olympics “due” in just seven years, it is encouraging to hear of a debate in Parliament surrounding the games funding in this country. In fact – it’s rare to hear the sport ever mentioned in Parliament; on the rare occasions they have, corruption and Zimbabwe have been the topics of debate.
We’ll have to watch this closely in the coming years. Lord’s is hosting archery – what a spectacle that should be! – but otherwise, cricket could be “hidden away” in 2012. If England’s national side continues to improve, they could well be world champions by then – so let’s hope their profile in this country can improve to compete with the Olympics.