Summary advice The positioning at the top - Recommendations for a sustainable future of organisation and financing of elite sports

Currently, Dutch elite sports are excelling at the highest international levels, with athletes clinching medals at both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter and Summer Games across various sports. We are producing champions in commercial sports like cycling and combat sports, and our performance in the global football arena, both in men's and women's categories, reflects our prowess as a small nation. These achievements allow every child in the Netherlands to dream of an international elite sports career in their chosen discipline, and most residents take pride in our country's elite sports performance. Moreover, this level of success manifests various societal side effects. The Netherlands Sports Council (Nederlandse sportraad) has examined whether these top performances can be sustained in the future with the current organisation and financing of elite sports.

Although it is not yet dire everywhere in Dutch elite sports, the council notes numerous long-term uncertainties. As a result, the sustainability of elite sports is in question. Factors at play include a national government that has not expressed any explicit and long-term commitment to supporting and financing elite sports, a weakening organisational structure of sports federations and increasing competition in elite sports. Additionally, society is placing increasing demands on elite sports organisations in terms of safety and integrity. Uncertainty looms over lottery funding and the financial influence of foreign investors and international gambling companies is growing.

Dutch elite sports are ill-equipped to handle these developments. Without a clear and robust plan, wealthy foreign financiers will soon dictate the practice and viewing of elite sports in the Netherlands. It's likely that the Dutch elite sports landscape will then only accommodate a few commercially viable sports. Consequently, the societal value of Dutch elite sports will diminish significantly.