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British Cycling suffer funding cut for Tokyo Olympic cycle

Despite another hugely successful Olympic Games this year, British Cycling has had its funding cut by over £4 million for the next Olympic cycle.

Of the £345m pot distributed by UK Sport, cycling will receive £25,980,427 in the build-up to the Tokyo Games in 2020, down from the £30,267,816 it received for Rio.

UK Sport has told Cyclingnews the decision is down to two factors, the first being an increase in external, commercial funding, and the second being a decrease in the number of athletes on cycling's programmes. In light of that, British Cycling CEO Ian Drake said he was "pleased" with the "significant investment". 

Funding for sports in the UK come from the national lottery and is allocated on a 'medal potential' basis, whereby sports that demonstrate an ability to deliver Olympic success are given priority. The last three Olympics have represented a golden age for British cycling, with a staggering 20 track gold medals out of the possible of 30 won over the Beijing, London, and Rio Games. In Rio, there were six golds and 11 medals in total, including Chris Froome's bronze on the road in the time trial.

Despite the continued success, UK Sport's latest round of funding inflicts an cut of just over 13 per cent, though cycling remains the third most supported sport in the country – behind athletics and rowing.

"Cycling are contributing more 'co-funding' to their programme (from commercial income) in this cycle and they've had a reduction in athlete places, specifically around their mountain bike and BMX programmes," a UK Sport spokesperson explained.

The £345m pot is £2m less than the record £347 distributed for the Rio cycle, and UK Sport have struggled with a shortfall as national lottery ticket sales decline. The Telegraph recently reported that the government would be stepping in with £30m of public money to cover the shortfall.

Despite the cut, British Cycling welcomed the allocation of funding on Friday.

"We are pleased that UK Sport is backing British Cycling with significant investment for the next Olympic and Paralympic cycle," said Drake. I'd like to thank UK Sport and the National Lottery for their continued support and we are confident we can deliver on that.

"Topping the cycling medal tables at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games remains our goal and we began implementing our Tokyo plans two years ago.

"The sustainability of the Great Britain Cycling Team and, more widely, British Cycling has long been a key priority for us and we are becoming less reliant on public money thanks to the support of our commercial partners."

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Patrick Fletcher
Patrick Fletcher

Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.