Acute risk of delay – Sport –

Thorsten Burmester, Chairman of the Board of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), revealed on Wednesday in the Sports Committee of the Bundestag that he has an obviously fulfilling part-time job: as a conductor, train driver, timetable coordinator and engineer all rolled into one. He compared the top-level sports reform, passed by the federal government and organized sport in 2016, to a train that had lost speed from station to station (i.e. the 2018, 2021 and 2022 Olympic Games). Now he has finally come to a standstill (read: less and less success). You can’t just put on a few new brake pads, you have to put a new train on the track, with new staff. Also a way of saying: the old reform failed with a bang.

On the one hand, this is remarkable because the federal government and sport had given the athletes “four to eight years to the podium” in 2016. On the other hand, the DOSB and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), the largest financier of German sports, had already conjured up the reform of the failed reform a few weeks ago: a “rough concept” that was the hook in the sports committee on Wednesday. And it quickly became apparent that with the reliability of Germany’s top sports railway, this will also be a thing in the future.

Johannes Herber, managing director of the athletes’ representation in Germany, reiterated his biggest point of criticism in the committee: The new concept “still talks too much about structures and not enough from the perspective of the athletes and coaches”. Herber and Maximilian Klein presented 30 key points on Wednesday, which should focus more on the suppliers of successes and medals: the athletes. There was something interesting about it, a kind of “athlete’s student loan” that could waive certain repayments for athletes if they were successful; or an innovation pot that rewards athletes who find their path to success beyond bases. Or a reform in youth sport, which experts have been calling for for a long time: Instead of rewarding bases and coaches for medals at youth championships, success in the adult sector should be rewarded – otherwise, roughly speaking, athletes are encouraged to train too hard too early. The apt summary of Maximilian Klein: “Athletes are always measured”, the support systems hardly.

Or to put it another way: a dysfunctional top-class sports apparatus does not become more successful by allowing it to swallow even more money – now around 370 million euros a year from the federal government.

How concretely the new “rough concept” wants to take up these suggestions remained vague on Wednesday, as did other central questions. “What criteria is used to measure success?” asked Friedhelm Julius Beucher, President of the German Disabled Sports Association. In any case, aligning goals only with the medal yield is not expedient, Burmester admitted. It also remained unclear how a new, independently operating sports agency could distribute the funding in the future. State Secretary Mahmut Özdemir (SPD) said that no talks had been held with Sporthilfe, which recently remarked how experienced it was in terms of funding. The DOSB, as Johannes Herber explained, could take over a kind of quality management in this new agency – which would only mean that the agency would no longer be really independent – the much-discussed Potas system of the federal government could continue to form the basis for how much money each professional association would receive. However, this “Potas monster” (André Hahn/Die Linke) would have to be clearly tamed; many trade associations have recently complained about the excessive bureaucracy.

By the way, DOSB board member Burmester was quite specific about one thing: The new concept could take effect in 2028 at the earliest. At the 2024 and 2026 Olympics, the German sports train will probably continue to make a name for itself with delays.


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