President of the Hellenic Rowing Federation, Giannis Karras says the implications on rowing in Greece are big. “For 2011 these cuts reached 20 per cent of our budget while this year it is expected to be even more than 20 per cent. These cuts concern our sport which for Greece’s present sport standards is developing extremely well the last years, compared to others.”
Karras says some sports have had up to 60 per cent funding cuts and sees that rowing may have an advantage over other sports. “We are not in a position to know yet whether they will continue to “abandon” some sports in order to support some other more successful ones, in which case the sport of rowing will obviously benefit.”
Rowing funding comes from the State which is then supplemented in the two years before the Olympics by the Hellenic Olympic Committee to help the top Olympic hopefuls. Rowing benefited from Greece’s success at the London Olympics. (Greece took bronze in the lightweight women’s double sculls, one of a total of two medals won by Greece in London.)
“We got a large promotion and we now have more athletes involved with rowing,” says Karras.
At club level Karras says it is extremely difficult. Up until 2008 clubs could rely on state funding for help with sports equipment for top athletes. Now athletes are called to pay a monthly fee by the clubs so that they can continue to operate.
“There is a great effort to bring this motivation back (for top athletes),” says Karras. “For example by increasing their entrance examination grades for the universities by a certain percentage granted to them due to their sport distinctions.”
Until 2008 top athletes were given a certain amount of money depending on what they had won internationally. “Now not only they are not entitled to these anymore but the State still owes them money from previous years making the athletes wonder if they are ever going to get it,” says Karras.
The Greek national team will also have to cut down on the number of international regattas that they attend.
“The only thing we are hoping and looking for under these sad circumstances, is that our sport’s high performance and success over the last eight years will finally get us into the group of limited sports which will keep being financed with the highest possible budgets granted by the Greek state. From our side we can only guarantee that we will do our best towards this direction, more than ever,” says Karras.