Grassroots sport hit hardest by crisis

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Asked how the current economic situation has affected the sports world, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the main crisis is taking place at grassroots level, as governments overwhelmed by other priorities reduce their support for sports. 

"At international level it is going well, but nationally and locally it is not that good," said Jacques Rogge on 20 February.

In addition to falling government support, "ticket sales at local level are going down and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find sponsorships," Rogge said, adding that the presidents of national Olympic committees had already alerted him about their problems. 

If the crisis lingers on, it could "affect overall interest in sport," he warned.

Meanwhile, Rogge noted that the preparations of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi are looking good. There has been a 15% budget cut for the Olympic Village, as falling world commodity prices have made its construction cheaper.

European Olympic Comimttee (EOC) President Patrick Hickey called for the swift ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in a bid to give the EU a competence on sport, leading to a launch of an EU sport policy and a specific funding programme to support sport at all levels.

Meanwhile, a representative of the European Non-governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO) told EurActiv that even now, before a true EU competence and funding programme on sport exists, ENGSO's operative budget had tripled thanks to EU funds. This comes as the NGO has succesfully bid for sports funding through other EU funding programmes, such as the structural funds. "We hope that the amount will further double or triple once the official EU sports funding programme in place," the representative added. 

EU funding through ENGSO has so far been used for networking and exchange of best practice between organisations, rather than for funding concrete sports activities, which the organisation also hopes to be able to do in the future. 

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