Downing Street insisted after the London Olympics that there will be no limit on the amount of honours awarded to Britain’s gold medal-winning Olympic athletes. With 43 athletes collecting 29 gold medals between them, there was speculation that some could miss out in the New Year honours list.
The most senior civil servant at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport cautioned at the weekend there would be no “automatic gong” for winning gold in the London 2012 Games.
Jonathan Stephens said the sports honours committee, which makes recommendations for awards, would be looking to recognise those who “put something back” as well as succeeding in their chosen event.
No 10 has rejected reports that new rules drawn up by the head of the civil service and chairman of the main honours committee, Sir Bob Kerslake, would limit the number of honours which could go to Team GB.
“Honours are awarded on merit, not according to quotas,” the prime minister’s official spokesman said.
However, London Mayor Boris Johnson demanded all of the UK’s Olympic gold medallists be rewarded, saying Team GB’s haul was “unquestionably worthy of official recognition”.
However, his statement appeared at odds with a comment by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, the Paralympic gold medallist who sits on the sports honours committee. In a normal year, she said, the committee would be restricted to one or two knighthoods, “a few more” CBEs and between 45 and 50 MBEs, the lowest tier in the honours system.
In the face of mounting pressure, Downing Street have said that new rules drawn up by Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the Civil Service, meant there was no limit to the number of honours available.