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British Olympic team "too white"


The British Olympic team is too white and too suburban, said a board member of Sport England, who has called for a “revolution” in how athletes are selected for the games.

Chris Grant, one of British sport’s most senior black administrators, has said that racism and “unconscious bias” are to blame for the ethnic mix of British competitors.

While Team GB was comprised of about 86 per cent white athletes in the Tokyo Games, roughly equivalent to the population as a whole, Grant said potential Olympians from the inner city are overlooked, with about half of the athletes having been educated in private schools.

“There is overt racism through sport and activity at every level – of course there is. Sport has a massive heritage of exclusion,” the Sport England board member told The Guardian, citing a rule that was abolished in 1948 that required boxers to have two white parents as an example.

“Team GB, Paralympics GB and their support teams do not look and sound like the whole population – that is absurd, but I think the challenge is that people don’t think it’s absurd,” he asserted.

Grant said that progress in diversifying the British Olympic team has been “painfully slow and difficult”.

“Part of the reason it hasn’t happened is that some of the people who are in positions of power don’t really believe it can happen. And part of that, frankly, is unconscious bias,” he said.

“Tokyo has demonstrated yet again that we have amazing talent development pathways, but that the gateways to elite sport are not fairly distributed. We need investment to change that, but more than anything we need vision, ambition and will,” Grant added.

Grant is now spearheading “Mission 2032”, a project aimed at increasing diversity in the British Olympic squad through increased transparency in the selection data.