Outdoor sports and activities are at risk because of the massive overspend on the London Olympics.
That’s the view of the British Mountaineering Council, which is urging lovers of the outdoors to petition the Government not to divert Lottery money from non-Olympic sports.
The latest figures for the 2012 Olympics put the cost of the event at £9.35bn, nearly four times the original estimate. Sport England, the Government agency set up to promote sporting activity, says nearly £56m is being diverted from funds it would normally use to help community sport to bolster the Olympics. It says this puts at risk the continued investment it makes in helping activities such as mountaineering, climbing and orienteering.
Sport England says the cut will have an even greater effect because it uses its funding to attract £3 for every £1 it currently gets. The cut puts at risk one of the fundamental reasons for hosting the Olympics: greater participation in activities among communities.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has expressed similar concerns about funding north of the border.
Sport England chair Derek Mapp said: “Our support for the 2012 Games is unquestioned and we know the Government has had to make tough choices.
“However, the decision to divert a further £55.9 million of Sport England’s share of lottery income between 2009 and 2012 to fund the 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games is a cut too far and seriously endangers the creation of a sporting legacy from the 2012 Games.
“Unless new funding is secured we will have to reduce down our 2012 ambition of increasing participation across two million people. We estimate that the best case scenario would result in 186,000 less people doing sport.
“Given the partnership funding we lever in the true reduction to the ambition is likely to be significantly higher. Inactivity costs the country £8.2 billion a year so this shortfall will cost the country dear.
“This cut is a real blow to community sport in England. No other country has succeeded in delivering a sporting legacy to their Games. This decision makes our attempt harder.”
The e-petition is available to sign on the Downing Street website.