Massive criticism of DOSB: shock waves after a lousy Olympic result

Massive criticism of DOSB
Shock waves after a lousy Olympic result

Nothing is okay in German sport. Experts come to a devastating verdict: the balance sheet at the Olympics? Devastating! The DOSB? A lazy tanker! The youth? Without a performance concept! Solutions are now being sought. Is the rethinking too late?

For Germany’s top sporting princes, things are going to be sticky. In overcoming the Corona crisis and the delicate upheaval at the top of the DOSB umbrella organization, a fundamental debate about the direction and structures of German competitive sport is pushing with increasing force. Triggered by the meager medal yield at the summer games in Tokyo, calls for a radical cure to make top-class German sport fit for the Olympic future are getting louder. Many a critic wants to best disempower the German Olympic Sports Confederation.

“The DOSB tanker is much too sluggish to respond quickly and specifically to the needs of the individual sports,” said swimming icon Michael Groß recently to the “” portal and called for the establishment of an organization responsible only for high-performance sports such as it was the National Olympic Committee (NOK), which was absorbed into the DOSB in 2006.

Even the chairman of the Bundestag Sports Committee, Dagmar Freitag, considers the end of the NOK more than ever to be a mistake. “Personally, I now see myself strengthened in my earlier doubts about this,” said the SPD politician. A pure competitive sports organization “certainly sets different accents and priorities than an umbrella organization, which, in my perception, has been noticeable for years because it constantly commissions external agencies to develop concepts for a wide variety of things,” added Freitag.

Gloomy prospects for Paris in 2024

With 37 medals, ten of them gold, the German team in Tokyo had their weakest result since reunification. Even if a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for sport and millions in funding, soberly described this as a “quite decent result”, the trend gives cause for concern. “We are significantly behind compared to the games of the last few years. Compared to Rio it is 20 percent, compared to London even 25 percent,” said Ulf Tippelt, head of the Institute for Applied Training Science in Leipzig, the MDR.

Tippelt does not expect an upturn for the 2024 Summer Games. “We will not have a wider range of new talents or athletes who start in Paris. We will essentially start at the same level,” said the IAT boss. The painstakingly negotiated reform of top-class sports and the system of potential analysis developed for the allocation of funds should have an impact by the beginning of next year at the latest.

Sports politician Friday experienced a real “squabble” over the reform, as she says. “On massive resistance of organized sport” take some measures. “In the last 15 years we have seen enough examples of how the DOSB political system is softening all reforms, constantly balancing all interests,” said Olympic champion Groß of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.

If Germany wants to get back into the top five of the medal table at the Olympics, elimination of bureaucracy will be necessary, says the 57-year-old. The focus must be more on disciplines such as swimming, athletics and track cycling, in which many medals are awarded at summer games and the Germans won only a few precious metals in Tokyo. Possible role models are Australians and British, who, with the greater concentration on medal-rich disciplines in Japan, again performed significantly more successfully.

Performance concept in the basement

“To be successful in competitive sports, you certainly don’t need an absolutely over-bureaucratic system,” said Triathlon President Martin Engelhardt. In addition to the British, the Norwegians have recently shown how lean structures can promote success. But that could also happen within the DOSB. “It is important that the people who have knowledge and competence can ultimately work independently without know-it-alls constantly talking to them,” warned Engelhardt.

But how willing is the DOSB to reform? Association boss Alfons Hörmann has announced a “clean and complete analysis” after Tokyo, but will vacate his position in December after severe criticism from the group of employees regarding his management style. Who will succeed him and how extensive the change in personnel and content at the top of the DOSB will be is still completely open.

Competitive sports director Dirk Schimmelpfennig spoke of wanting to “simplify and reduce bureaucracy” in promoting sports, as is the case in other nations. The 59-year-old, Chef de Mission of the German team in Tokyo, does not want to divert the money into just a few sports with the prospect of many medals. “We still want to combine that in Germany with diversity. We want to depict sport in Germany,” said Schimmelpfennig.

The dilemma cannot be solved with money alone, say SPD politician Freitag and triathlon boss Engelhardt. It takes “a complete new beginning,” said Engelhardt. “The importance of competitive sport in our society has decreased dramatically. If you look at scientific surveys across countries, the idea of ​​performance is in the basement in Germany,” said the 61-year-old. Engelhardt therefore believes that “a comprehensive sports program for everyone in order to generate enthusiasm for sport in the population again” is necessary. In Corona times, however, the prospects for this remain bleak. The club’s work, which is disrupted in many places, the massive decline in members and the sometimes flagging commitment to volunteering hardly gives hope for a growing number of Olympic talents. Tokyo may not have been the lowest point in Germany’s Olympic record yet.