VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria will no longer support “Olympic tourists”, the country’s sports minister has said, promising a major shake-up of state support for competitors after the country failed to win a summer Olympic Games medal for the first time in half a century.
Legislation to be crafted this year would ensure aid focused on popular Olympic sports rather than continuing a “watering can” approach that sprinkled money across the athletic spectrum, Norbert Darabos told the Kurier newspaper.
“The new law on promoting sports should ensure that Austria no longer produces Olympic tourists,” added Darabos, saying he was fed up with athletes who had performed poorly gushing about the atmosphere at the London Games.
Austria sent 70 athletes to compete in 21 sports at London 2012 but, for the first time since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, failed to win any medals.
“We have to change the structures in time so that we can win medals in Rio in 2016, or else we will again be on the same level as Luxembourg. They won’t win anything in London either,” Darabos was quoted as saying in an interview printed on Friday.
Mountainous Austria fares far better at winter sports and took home 16 medals, including four golds, from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Clare Fallon)