9 Apr 2020

Concerns women's sport could bear brunt of financial cutbacks

7:30 pm on 9 April 2020

There are fears women's sport could bear the brunt of financial cutbacks in the sector as sports organisations are forced to make savings in the wake of the global pandemic.

The secretary-general of the New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association Kereyn Smith.

New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general Kereyn Smith Photo: Photosport

Speaking online to Women in Sport Aotearoa, the secretary general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Kereyn Smith expressed concern about the future saying there was both "risk and opportunity"

"When things get tough and budgets get cut, often women's sport - whether it's competitions, or programmes or the development of leadership - (is) the first to go," she said.

"So we (women) need to be proactive and have a voice so... that when we rebuild our organisations everything is on the table and the 'Women in Sport' voice around the world needs to be heard and show leadership, provide solutions and options.

"It might be that some of the programmes targeted for women and girls in sport take a hit, but I think as we go back to looking at what is the core business of sport - we need to look at what is important for women and men and boys and girls - for everyone."

There is opportunity too though.

"We need to have organisations fit for the future, and that means diverse leadership and they need to be inclusive organisations and they need women to be centrally involved in that.

"The opportunity for women to be involved in the sport workforce will also open up. I see that the workforce will be more remote, more spread."

Smith said it was important that sport wasn't "held hostage" by the pandemic and it was important "to turn whatever you can into a positive"

The lockdown had also highlighted the importance of sport to New Zealand, said Smith.

"It really really matters to our morale and to our life ...and it will also circuit break our competitions and leagues and how community and global sport runs."

Even with the Tokyo Olympics being postponed for a year Smith said that doesn't mean COVID-19 won't be a factor.

"Sadly this might be around in waves for some time to come.

"Health issues are always a real risk in any Games situation.

"We saw this in Rio (with the Zika virus). It wasn't a global pandemic - but if you get an illness like that among ten thousand athletes - it's really problematic so there is still some risk around 2021 but we hope that it is not of the current scale."