How much does the Olympics cost us?

Anyone know if there’s any value for money analysis of how much the state spends on each sport, and how that compares to what we get out in terms of success (medals, placings, etc)? Sems to me that we perform poorly for our size and that an argument could be made that we’d be better off concentrating on fewer Olympic sports.


Hate to be a pendant but is there not a m in olypics?.

We actually perform above average AFAIK on the old medal tables for our population, but we are richer and physically bigger than most.

Generally speaking I think the whole olypics is a colossal waste of money.

It cost us a lot, we can’t even afford m’s anymore!

The biggest spend on sport is the GAA, the next biggest soccer, then rugby (?), athletics and other international sports are a far distant third, although I believe the state spends a fair amount on administrative bodies…

Not sure how my phone let me drop the m sorry.

Zero medals is performing well?

Tis grand, we can afford extra N’s so it is all good


It ai t over till the fat lady sings.

Left out the n as we cant afford it.

Daly was right

Found some numbers:

The Irish Sports Council gets about €50m from the govt (as of 2010). Of this, €5.6m goes to “high-performance sports” (Olympics etc). Is this a good proportion? Seems like a difficult balance: any less and it’s probably hard to do anything useful; any more and you’re spending a fair whack of all sports money on a few dozen athletes.

Here is the breakdown:

Athletics Ireland 657,250
Badminton Ireland 90,000
Cricket Ireland 60,000
Cycling Ireland 410,000
Golfing Union of Ireland 300,000
Horse Sport Ireland 600,000
Irish Ladies Golf Union 125,500
Irish Amateur Boxing Association 588,750
Irish Canoe Union 190,000
Irish Clay Pigeon Shooting Association 70,000
Irish Hockey Association 425,000
Irish Sailing Association 430,000
Modern Pentathlon Association of Ireland 15,000
Paralympics Ireland 500,000
Rowing Ireland 550,000
Snowsports Association 25,000
Swim Ireland 335,000
Tennis Ireland 180,000
Triathlon Ireland 100,000
TOTAL 5,651,500

So it does look like, roughly, sports where we’re known for doing well (rowing, boxing, horsies) get a decent share. It does seem like a long list though, seems strange to spend money on things like golf (where there appears to be massive sponsorship available) and snow sports.

In addition to the above, a fair whack of money seems to be paid directly to the athletes through the “carding scheme” and performance-related bonuses. For example, 29 cyclcists get direct payments, as well as a pageful of boxers and a pageful of sailors (for scale, Annalise Murphy got 20k directly through the Carding Scheme in 2010).

(All numbers from the 2010 annual report: … rt_ENG.pdf)

I still wonder if we’re putting money into too diverse a field in terms of high-performance sport.

What you’re forgetting is what the GAA receives from the National Lottery. The figures above are dwarfed by this, and if the Irish public wanted to create more competitive Olympic athletes, it could be done with comparative ease.

You may as well look at the massive incentives given to the golf sector then. At least the spend on the GAA has resulted in facilities that are open and available for children and young adults to use at a local level.

    1. The accessibility and welcoming attitude of the GAA is very impressive. Our local club charges 2 euro for 75 minutes of children’s training and has a big supply of hurls and helmets to use if you don’t have your own. No fussing about having to wear the club uniform or stud shoes. Hurling and/or football have to be the easiest and cheapest sports in Ireland to access and play.

Interesting that cricket, with the third lowest allocation gets into the upper levels of the second tier internationally. They seem to have used their budget more efficiently than some. Is Ireland particularly highly rated in tennis or sailing, for example?

Edit: I know the hardware for sailing is much more expensive, but the cricket/tennis comparison is certainly a fair one.

Wow, I hadn’t realised how well we are doing in cricket. Ahead of powerhouse such as Netherlands, Scotland and Canada but level with Afghanistan, who don’t even have a fuctioning country, in Twenty20. Ahead of Netherlands and Kenya in ODI. Truly astonishing performance by the cricketers. Give these lads more money :smiley:

I do not believe that sailing is as expensive as many people believe, especially when you are talking about the laser radial type class that Annalise Murphy is competing in.

+1. Very little cost involved. Just lots and lots of effort!

And Kenya had a ten year start in (originally permanent) ODI status, neither being so very different in standard from Bangladesh… (who, by common admission, hardly deserve test status and are cannon fodder for the other full members in ODI also)

Sarcasm aside, I merely pointed out that a sport with a relatively modest budget seems to have made good use of it.

Bizarrely, Afghanistan’s recent improvement is largely because they don’t have a functioning country. :laughing: The game only grew because most of their players started playing as refugees in Pakistan over the last fifteen years or so.

:question: BTW, I wonder to what extent funding precedes, accompanies or follows an improvement in performance? How far is it an enabler and how far a lagging indicator?

It is supposed to be an enabler; the funding I listed is purely the “high-performance” stuff, not the routine funding to sports (which is much, much larger). So it’s not money to develop the sport, get young people playing it etc. It’s money to take particular individuals who show promise and get them to win medals.

In practice, I suspect it’s a lagging indicator as the “safe” choices are the ones the public are excited about now.

Also, some of the members of the Sports Council are drawn from the individual governing bodies, and they decide on the grants. What could possibly go wrong!

The financial statements actually disclose these: here are the grants made to governing bodies run by the members of the Sports Council:
• Frances Kavanagh, Employee of Special Olympics €2,307,842 under NGB Grants
• Frances Kavanagh, President of the Federation of Irish Sport €75,000 under NGB Grants
• Susan Ahern, Executive Committee OCI €350,000 under Olympic Council of Ireland
• Brian Mullins, Secretary to CUSAI €50,000 under CUSAI Grants
• John Byrne, Special Project Consultant for the FAI, €3.36million under Youth Field Sport and €250,000 under Women in Sport.
• Ginny Elliot, High Performance Coach Horse Sport Ireland, €890,295 under NGB Grants and €600,000 under High Performance

It’s worth noting that John Byrne also claimed 7,913 in expenses, or almost half the total expenses claimed by Council members. I’m not sure who he is, but my “political appointee” sense is tingling…

Why, then, does it get so ‘much’ in grants relatively speaking? I reckon competition standard boats and moving them around Europe to the various regattas is quite pricey… (in the same way that riding a bike round in a circle behind a scooter is a long-way from a keirin in a velodrome…).

PS I don’t see anything wrong with funding the GAA, FAI or IRB (given the popularity and local reach of these sports), I was merely pointing out that a lot of sports funding is for sports that are not Olympic sports.

My understanding is that most of the high performance funding isn’t necessarily for equipment - it’s for high-end trainging: sports psychologists; fancy dieticians; fancy sessions with video analysis etc. The stuff that makes a tiny but important difference at the international level. Well-funded field sports probably have access to this already, but smaller national sports don’t.