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Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal

February 20, 2017

UK Sport has rejected wheelchair rugby’s appeal against its funding cut for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic cycle.

Wheelchair rugby lost all of its £3m funding amid speculation UK Sport wants the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to pay more of the costs.

The RFU puts in about £100,000 a year to help fund wheelchair rugby.

Seven sports are challenging the removal of their funding, including archery, badminton, fencing, goalball, table tennis and weightlifting.

An official announcement on the funding of six of the seven sports is expected later on Monday, but UK Sport has delayed a definite decision on another Paralympic sport, goalball, until its next board meeting on 23 March.

Great Britain finished fifth in the wheelchair rugby competition at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, after narrowly losing 53-51 to Australia and 50-49 to Canada in the group phase.

However, the British team did win gold at the European Championship in 2015.

Over the past five Paralympic cycles, wheelchair rugby received more than £7m in funding from UK Sport.

While Great Britain have won golds at European level, they have never won a World Championship or Paralympic medal.

The chairman of UK Athletics, Ed Warner, as well as England rugby union international Mike Brown, led a campaign designed to reverse the ruling after an outcry against Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic so-called ‘no-compromise’ medal-winning strategy.

What is the background?

In December, UK Sport announced the funding for the cycles for the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

As well as wheelchair rugby, archery, badminton, fencing, goalball, table tennis and weightlifting appealed to UK Sport to review the decision on how much they had been awarded.

UK Sport says it must prioritise sports with the strongest medal potential for Tokyo and the appeal process is essentially a second opportunity for officials to demonstrate why they deserve funding.

A total of £345m will be invested in 31 Olympic and Paralympic sports – £2m less than the record £347m allocated for the Rio Games.

UK Sport has set Team GB a target of winning between 51 and 85 Olympic medals, and 115 to 162 Paralympic medals in 2020.

Britain enjoyed unprecedented success at Rio 2016, with the Olympics yielding 67 medals and the Paralympics 147.

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