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Government announces new sports funding

The Government today announced funding for two major areas of support for New Zealand’s preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Sport, Fitness and Leisure Minister Trevor Mallard said Cabinet has approved an additional $1million to help New Zealand athletes and teams prepare for the Games and an additional $140,000 for drug testing programmes so that New Zealand meets its obligations to foster and promote a drug-free sporting environment.

“In recent months, New Zealanders have shown clearly how passionately they care about the international success, or lack of success, of our sporting representatives,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Our achievements in the sporting arenas this year have been variable. The Government wants to do its bit to try and ensure that there are a lot more ups than downs next year.

“The Olympics are a major focus. They will be the closest to New Zealand in our lifetime. We want to provide direct support to help our athletes prepare. Advice to Government has identified a shortfall of between $3 million and $5.4 million. There is a major sponsorship opportunity and room for individuals and companies to give support as they have in the past.

“Part of the funding will be allocated to the High Performance Unit athletes for their final preparations. There are 23 athletes and three teams which have been identified as having a good chance of winning medals.

“It will also include a small grant to all other team members to help them meet their individual training and preparation needs. That might help with a bit of travel or some time off work. It will include athletes who take part in the Paralympics. There may also be funding to cover grants for volunteer coaches who are part of the teams.

“The funding for drug testing is another important aspect of Olympic Games preparation. The New Zealand Sports Drug Agency has been insufficiently funded to run a drug testing programme which would have an adequate deterrent and detection capacity. This extra funding will allow the agency to increase the number of drug tests from 900 to 1,320.

“It is important for preserving New Zealand’s good reputation in this area, and it has the support of athletes who want preventive measures to ensure they are not unfairly disadvantaged and their codes do not become the centre of drug scandals. We must also set an example to aspiring athletes that the use of banned substances is unacceptable.

“Along with our commitment to fostering arts and culture, the Government sees support for sports as a way to promote national identity and pride in our country. Today’s announcement is part of that commitment,” Trevor Mallard said.

ends

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