Thursday, August 12, 2004


With only about 14 hours (and counting) until the beginning of the Olympics, I thought I would make a comment of the current funding levels for Team Canada. As various articles have mentioned, the federal government has continually underfunded our Olympic programs.

In fact, Australia, which has just over half our population, spends 3 times more on their athletes than we do here in Canada. And the results speak for themselves--we won 44 in LA in 1984, only 17 in Sydney and predictions are that we are only likely to win 12 to 14 in Athens this year.

I think that's a disgrace.

For the money (IOC Vice President Dick Pound has suggested Canada needs to top up funding from the current $16 million to at least $50 million) I think the returns are substantial. For the price the federal government invests on its Federal Tobacco Strategy, we could properly fund our Olympic programs and give our athletes a fighting chance.

But what's the return on our investment? Why should we give more money for sport?

Civic pride. We cannot underestimate the nation-building qualities that Team Canada has. It reminds us that we are proud to be Canadian and why. It allows us to focus on an activity as a nation and rally aroundour fellow citizens as they compete against the world.

Research and Development. There is no question that there are substantial synergies between training for the olympics and research and development. And there are economic and social benefits to that. If Canada were to establish a (or multiple) world-class athletic institutes designed to focus on athletic excellence, do you not think that both business and science from around the world would be drawn to it?

Global Stature. Frankly, I think Canada does a poor job promoting itself abroad. The same people that think the Olympics are a waste of time also think that there is no correlation to our funding (or lack thereof) of NATO and our influence (or lack thereof) within the UN. The Olympics are just another way to tell the world that Canada is a global leader. Millions of people across the world watch the Olympics every four years. Standing first on the medal podium is some of the best tourism and investment marketing Canada could do.

That's something I am willing to spend more money on.

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