Volleyball asks for 2012 bailout for British teams

Dec. 16, 2008, 11:21 a.m. (ET)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland(AP) As the economic crisis cuts into funding for sports, the international volleyball federation wants the British government to bail out Britain's Olympic teams ahead of the 2012 London Games.

FIVB president Wei Jizhong told Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 organizing committee, it is “imperative” that the government helps fund volleyball and beach volleyball for the next four years.

No British teams qualified for volleyball or beach volleyball at this year's Beijing Games, but the country is offered guaranteed places for 2012 as the host nation.

The two sports are among nine Olympic disciplines facing financial shortages because UK Sport - which funds Olympic sports in Britain - has a shortfall in investment from private businesses.

“At present there is not yet funding in place for volleyball or beach volleyball after March 31, 2009,” Wei told Coe in extracts from a letter published Tuesday.

The Chinese official, who took over the FIVB's top job in Beijing last August, said the world governing body would support the British teams to ensure they take up their guaranteed Olympic spots.

“However, it is imperative that the (British federation) receives the promised support from the British government,” Wei wrote to Coe. “We come to you to ask for your support in this situation.”

UK Sport faced a shortfall of 100 million pounds ($150 million; 119 million) from the private sector, which is scaling back spending amid the global downturn. Half of the deficit was made up by a government bailout and sales of tickets for the national lottery.

UK Sport has allocated a total of 246.8 million pounds ($364 million; 289 million euros) to 19 sports as part of its goal to finish fourth in the London 2012 medals table.

Only 12 million pounds has been made available for volleyball, beach volleyball, fencing, handball, shooting, table tennis, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling.

UK Sport will announce next month how much funding it is giving to the nine vulnerable sports, which it judged least likely to win medals. It has promised to help the sports find other income sources.

British volleyball and beach volleyball received 4.1 million pounds ($6.3 million; 4.6 million) funding in the four years leading up to the Beijing Games and Paralympics.