Sport Ireland has dedicated over €10m in high-performance funding to this year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, its highest ever support at this level.
And even though it predicts between two to five medals at the Olympics and has lower Paralympic medal expectations than in the recent past, they are backing it up by dishing out a further €2.4m through the individual grant system known as carding.
High-performance programmes got a total of €8.3m, with €600k each going to the Olympic and Paralympic Federations in yesterday’s €36m funding.
Team Ireland’s preparations for and participation in both events this summer is expected to be particularly costly.
It is estimated that Tokyo 2020 will cost close to €2.5m for a variety of reasons, not least because Ireland has already qualified, for the first time, one field team (women’s hockey) and all three equestrian teams (eventing, show-jumping, and dressage) in the Olympics and could yet possibly also include a men’s Sevens rugby team.
Those teams will not only bump up the number of athletes involved but the cost of their preparation.
Having to transport heavy equipment and so many horses to Japan also adds to the particularly heavy costs.
Yet, ironically, Ireland’s silver medal hero in Rio 2016 — Annalise Murphy — is not among the 120-plus athletes sharing in the €2.4m individual grant aid this year (an increase of 26% from last year’s €1.9m).
That’s because the carding scheme was altered last year to a two-year cycle, in order to guarantee athletes consistent support ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Strict qualifying criteria is set by each governing body. Murphy did not qualify for an individual grant last year because, after participating in the Round the World race, she had just begun a new Olympic campaign to try to qualify for Tokyo in a two-person 49erFX skiff.
She has since abandoned that but is back racing for an Olympic spot again, against two other Laser Radial sailors – Aisling Keller and Aoife Hopkins — after Keller secured Ireland’s ‘nation place’ last year.
Neither Murphy nor Keller are among sailing’s eight carded athletes who are getting just €12k each (Hopkins is) but both can still be funded by Sailing Ireland out of their elite funding which includes €800,000 for their High Performance Programme and an additional €50k for Tokyo-related special projects.
Sport Ireland said it has received no appeals to this year’s carding allocations and yesterday’s funding announcement was not just about elite sport.
A total of €36m was allocated in total and this included €13.8m (up €1m on 2019) for the ‘core activities’ of 58 national governing bodies and the 29 Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs).
Irish karate, which did not get any funding last year due to internal wrangling, is back in with a €10,000 grant but two of last year’s recipients, Irish archery and horseshoe pitchers, did not make the cut.
Local Sports Partnerships, which drive participation sport via sports development officers in virtually every county, got €8.3m, a substantial increase on last year,
But, in an Olympic year, the funding of high performance sport is always closely scrutinised, whether through High Performance Programmes (HPPs) or individual grants (Carding).
Athletics Ireland remains the most financed HPP, receiving €840,000 this year to bring its funding over the four-year Tokyo cycle to €3.3m.
Irish rowing, which is providing so many of Ireland’s World and European medals at the moment, only got €2.29m for HPPs since 2017 and €600,000 this year but this is because it caters for far less international athletes and competitions than a sport like athletics.
Rowers do get most funding under the carding scheme, with 13 of them getting €365,000 between them.
The carding scheme funds athletes under three categories — Podium Class (€40,000), World Class (€20,000) and International Class (€12,000).
Six rowers (Paul and Gary O’Donovan, Sanita Puspure, Fintan McCarthy, Ronan Byrne, and Philip Doyle) are among just 20 athletes who get the top level of €40,000 each which also now includes race walker Brendan Boyce, gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, and boxers Kellie Harrington, Kurt Walker, Michaela Walsh, and Aoife O’Rourke.
Next highest in individual grants are Para-track and field athletes (€360,000), boxers (€284,000), track and field (€244,000), cyclists (€212,000) and para-cyclists (€202,000), and €220,000 awarded for the ‘Team Ireland Golf Scheme’.
Athletics 840k/3.3m;Sailing 800k/3.07m;Boxing 770k/2.9m;Hockey 730k/2.5m; Paralympics 700k/2.7m;Horse Sport 690k/2.4m;Swimming 630k/2.3m;Rowing 620k/2.29m; Golf 450k/1.7m;Cycling 440k/1.59m; IRFU 300k/1.04m; Pentathlon 290k/1.08m;Triathlon 250k/940k; Gymnastics 230k/650k; Tennis 200k/745k;Cricket 200k/720k;Badminton 160k/580k;Judo 70k/220k;Canoeing 50k/180k;Taekwondo 50k/180k; Clay Target Shooting 30k/110k.
Athletics 244k; Badminton 72k; Canoeing 64k; Cycling 212k; Para-Cycling 202k; Gymnastics 72k; Boxing 284k; Clay Target 20k; Judo 84k; Sailing 96k; Taekwondo 20k; Para-Athletics 360k; Pentathlon 92k; Rowing Ireland 365k; Swim Ireland 180k; Para-Table Tennis 12k; Triathlon 52k.