FUTURE Olympic glory will be scarce if Lottery funding is diverted away from sport, former Prime Minister, Sir John Major has warned. The National Lottery was an initiative of Sir John, former MP for Huntingdon, in the mid 1990s. He said that sports organ
FUTURE Olympic glory will be scarce if Lottery funding is diverted away from sport, former Prime Minister, Sir John Major has warned.
The National Lottery was an initiative of Sir John, former MP for Huntingdon, in the mid 1990s.
He said that sports organisations were suffering budget cuts because the National Lottery was not being used as intended.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said it was crucial that the "grassroots of sports" was continually funded because that was where Olympians came from.
Sir John said he had been moved to tears by the achievements of the British athletes in Beijing.
"I've been up every morning at 6am to watch it and I bet millions of other people have. I dare say I'm not the only person to shed a tear or two of sheer delight when we've seen our young men and women. If we can produce more Rebecca Adlingtons, more Beckhams, more Kenneth Branaghs in the arts, then I think the country benefits."
However, he said that ministers were diverting a "good deal" of Lottery money into other places.
"Those expenditures are worthwhile but they were not what the Lottery was intended for," he said.
"And we are now seeing that organisations like Sport England are having cuts in their budgets. If that were to be a continuing position, it would severely damage the future facilities that could be made available."
Sir John said that funding needed to be sustained by future governments to ensure success in the future.
"Without the facilities at local level for young people, they're not going to be drawn into the sport," he said.
"Money is the root of all progress and it needs to be continued."
His Conservative government introduced the National Lottery to fund a "renaissance in sports, the arts and heritage" because it was argued that these sectors always lost out in the Whitehall argument.
He said: "It was not just for Olympians but for the grassroots of sports - that's where these Olympians come from.