Team GB athletes won't be set strict medal targets at the Tokyo Olympics, an official from the British Olympic Association has said.
Mark England, the BOA’s chef de mission in Tokyo, cited a lack of data from rival teams as the reason for the decision, as the pandemic has led to many planned competitions being cancelled or postponed over the last 12 months.
‘The past 12 months has given an opportunity for young athletes to be stronger and put themselves in contention,’ England said. ‘But it has been very obvious that any competition data in terms of where we stand against our main competitors across the world really isn’t there. We only have snatches of times and qualification times.’
UK Sport had previously set a target of 54-92 medals for Tokyo, before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted those plans. Nonetheless, England said Team GB plan to take around 375 athletes to Tokyo: ‘We believe we are taking a highly competitive team, this is a performance-focused team. And we are excited to see what they can do.’
The announcement is a further relaxation of the ‘no compromise’ approach established by UK Sport, which saw funding taking account of ‘past performances, which demonstrate whether the sport has a winning formula, and future potential.’
The UK has seen a huge increase in medal hauls over the last few games, with the 67 won in Rio in 2016 being the most successful overseas haul ever. 65 were won in 2012, including two more golds than in Rio. British athletes won 51 medals in Beijing in 2008, a substantial improvement on the 30 and 28 medals won at the Athens and Sydney games respectively.
Some predicted Team GB would do worse in Tokyo than in Rio even before the coronavirus outbreak. Entertainment data company Gracenote forecast in 2019 that the UK would win 43 medals, placing an estimated fifth, behind the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
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