The British Olympic Association will next month assess the extra cost of achieving its sporting goals for the 2012 Olympics at a minimum of £250m, or more than £40m a year.
The body will argue that the money is needed in the run-up to the London games to produce a Great Britain team strong enough to win the 18 gold medals that it believes will be necessary to secure fourth place in the medals table.
The claim will come in a paper that the association is due to deliver in mid-December to the Olympic board overseeing preparations for the games.
Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary and a member of the board, would then be expected to approach the Treasury to determine how the extra money could be generated.
Such an increase would imply a near doubling of the £45m-£55m a year that the government is reckoned to spend on elite sport.
If implemented, it could exacerbate the concerns of taxpayers who are worried that they may ultimately be asked to stump up a bigger bill for the games than has so far been acknowledged.
There have been suggestions, however, that the sum could be drawn from the 12p in the pound in duty that the government is levying on Olympic lottery games. This is expected to generate about £300m in tax take over the full period to 2012.
Lord Moynihan, British Olympic Association chairman, told MPs on the culture media and sport select committee this week that coming fourth in the medals table would cost “significantly more” than aiming for seventh or eighth place.
He said that while beating the US, Russia and China – the first three countries in the medals table in 2004 – was “unrealistic”, the association believed the British Olympic team could in effect take on the fourth-placed Australians “on home turf”, as England’s cricketers had done this summer.
Simon Clegg, association chief executive, argued that the public would judge the success of the Olympics by the number of medals won by the home team.
Host countries traditionally overachieve at the games. Nonetheless, the association’s target for 2012 would require a significant improvement over the performance achieved in recent Olympics.
At the Athens games in 2004, Britain finished 10th in the medals table, winning nine golds and 30 medals in all. This haul was regarded as highly satisfactory, particularly in the light of the slow start the team made.
At Sydney, four years earlier, the overall medals tally had reached 28, of which 11 were gold. This was again enough to finish 10th in the medals table.
It is possible that the private sector could provide some of the extra funding the association believes is necessary.
Lord Moynihan indicated to MPs that he did not think private sector funding of sport had yet been tapped to the full.
He has also raised the prospect of private-sector companies being asked to contribute to a fund for young athletes he plans to establish using the annual payment to which he is entitled as chairman but will not be claiming.
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