David Sygall August 12, 2012
A HIGHER Education Contribution Scheme-style program for financially successful athletes would encourage more government investment in sport, according to the founding father of the Australian Institute of Sport.
Professor John Bloomfield's call comes as swimming great Ian Thorpe urges the government to put ''as much money as possible'' into sport as a preventative health measure.
The levels and purpose of public funding are set to be hotly debated in the wake of the London Olympics, where the cost of each medal won by Australians as of yesterday was $10.3 million.
The federal government is investing a record $1.2 billion in sport over four years from 2010-11, of which $170 million goes to high performance sport.
The AOC wants a high proportion of public sports investment to continue to be directed towards Olympic programs, contrary to the 2009 Crawford report, which recommended investment be more closely aligned to participation levels and towards community programs.
''The important conversation that needs to take place in Australia now, and what needs to happen after the Games here in the UK, is basically what role will government play in sport,'' Thorpe told the BBC.
''I see government's role in sport as looking at putting as much money as possible into sport and across a number of sports, and look at it as being one of the greatest preventative measures of decreasing a future health bill.''
Thorpe's opinion mirrors that of Professor Bloomfield, whose white paper for the Whitlam government in 1973 advised a national institute be set up to inspire improved public health and elite performances.
Professor Bloomfield indicated the allocation of resources may have moved too far towards the pursuit of elite success. He supported high government investment as a preventative health measure but said the government may invest more in sport if it knew it would recoup some of the expense.
''They wouldn't pay it back until they earned enough money,'' he said. ''If you don't make anything, you don't pay anything back. But you've got to remember these are public funds.''