During the Olympics, the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee told an Australian reporter that we owed a great debt to Australia and what it has been doing for some years now to fund its Olympians. In that regard, it is probably worth reviewing the Crawford Report, an extensive study of Australian sport that raised all sorts of questions about pursuing Olympic success and has, subsequently, attracted all sorts of controversy. Among the problematic paragraphs contained therein, this.
A commonly held view is that success in international sport creates increased interest which translates into higher levels of participation at the grassroots. However, while Australia has been very successful at the last four olympics, there has also been a ‘blowout’ of adult and child obesity and little change in participation numbers in sport. According to survey data33 only 50 per cent of Australians participate ‘regularly’ in sport and physical activity. Nor does hosting major sporting events such as the olympic or commonwealth Games guarantee sustained increases in participation.