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Thursday, December 15, 2011

British Olympic Association considering a boycott of BBC's all-male Sports Personality of the Year

The BOA leadership have been invited to the BBC showpiece, due to be broadcast from Salford next week, but are actively considering whether to accept because of the snub to British female athletes.

Double Beijing Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Addlington and taekwondo world champion Sarah Stevenson were among the leading female athletes who failed to make a shortlist compiled by national newspaper and magazine sports editors, including lads mags Nuts and Zoo.

The issue is particularly acute for the BOA, which will enter a team almost 50 per cent female for next summer’s 2012 Games, and they have made their concerns known to the BBC.

Moynihan and Hunt have not taken a final decision and could yet attend, but the fact they are considering the issue demonstrates the depth of feeling, and the absence of senior figures from the BOA in the last SPotY before the London Games would send a strong message about inclusivity.

The BBC has promised to review the selection policy for next year’s award after the issue overshadowed the announcement of the shortlist, headed by world champion cyclist Mark Cavendish, and three golfers led by Major winners Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.

In a statement the BOA welcomed the BBC review but said it regretted “glaring omissions” from the shortlist.

“The Sports Personality of the Year is a prestigious honour and, typically, the BBC does a fantastic job recognising truly deserving sports men and women. This year, however, there were some glaring omissions from the list.

“Whether we attend this year is less important than what happens with the award in the future. To that end, we are encouraged to see that the BBC will review the process by which the finalists and winners are chosen in subsequent years.

"With next year being an Olympic year – and such an important year for British sport – this review is timely and will no doubt lead to an even better process going forward.”


The BOA is hoping to secure up to four long-term sponsorship deals by the spring to bring some financial stability after several years of struggling to balance the books.

Adidas became the first partner to sign up for the 2012-2016 Olympic cycle last week and the BOA hopes to add several more in the coming months despite the economic climate.

All are likely to be drawn from the existing roster of London Olympic sponsors.

The BOA will seek to tie up the deal before the Games to avoid Olympic fatigue, or negative associations should the team disappoint and miss the target of fourth in the medal table.

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