Mills denies lack of funding for athletes will damage Games

Sir Keith Mills, chief executive of London Olympics 2012, has denied that the current lack of funding for aspiring athletes will damage the event’s brand.

Speaking at a Royal Mail-sponsored conference in London, Mills was challenged about the failure of gymnast Ben Brown, whom the bid team used in its ad campaign, to secure the &£15,000 he needs to train for the games.

Mills accepted that that the issue of funding was a problem, but denied that it would damage the public’s perception of the games.

He told the conference: “One of the reasons I got involved is that there are a lot of things that this country could do better. Investment in athletes is one of those things.”

Some observers say that the Government was right to be cautious about supporting athletes, as this does not have the long-term benefits that financing the infrastructure does.

But others agree that the brand could be damaged, because the public felt that young athletes were being denied a chance to compete.

Clifford Bloxham, vice president of athletes and personalities at sports marketing agency Octagon, says: “If the public think youngsters aren’t getting their shot at the Olympic dream then that’s damaging. But there comes a point when athletes have to judged on their performance.”

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