Team GB’s athletes will not face medal targets for the Tokyo Olympics after it was revealed that its experts do not have enough data to make accurate forecasts, because of the Covid pandemic.
Mark England, the British Olympic Association’s chef de mission for Tokyo, was asked whether Team GB’s athletes were capable of exceeding the 67 medals won at the Rio 2016 Games. “We haven’t put a medal target on it – and we won’t, to be honest,” he said. “I don’t think UK Sport will either.”
When asked why, England said: “The past 12 months has given an opportunity for young athletes to be stronger and put themselves in contention. 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.”
It marks a significant shift in approach given that medal targets were at the heart of the UK Sport’s “no compromise” approach for years, with sports knowing if they fell short at an Olympics they could lose some or all of their funding for the next Games.
England said he was confident Team GB would take about 375 athletes in Tokyo – nine more than went to Rio. “We believe we are taking a highly competitive team, this is a performance-focused team,” he said. “And we are excited to see what they can do.”
“We will have an advance party that lands on 1 July. We have a huge preparation camp set up, which is extensive and fantastic. We are excited to see how it unfolds and what life in the Olympic village is. We are planning with no respite. This is pretty fast.”
UK Sport did not comment on England’s remarks but is still in discussion with some sports about adopting certain performance success measures. A source confirmed that due to the lack of international competition data it had been far harder than usual to make medal predictions in most sports.