Mexico and its 4T: Austerity even in Olympic Medals

Mexico and its 4T: Austerity even in Olympic Medals

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (in 2021) ended and Mexico reached the painful position 84 with only 4 bronze medals. One of them produced by professional and commercial investment associated with professional football.

How bad is this result historically? Simply the worst performance for Mexico since Atlanta 1996 when they only got a bronze medal.

Was this result expected? It depends on who is asked: Ana Gabriela Guevara, who serves as head of the National Commission for Physical Culture and Sports (Conade) predicted 10 medals, even after obtaining the first bronze medal in Archery:

In an interview on July 24, 2021, Guevara mentioned: “We are confident that we can beat the historical record (which is nine medals obtained in Mexico 1968), so the 10th medal would be writing history. The president of Mexico (AMLO) was very optimistic when he asked what the team's performance would be, and as a reference he wanted to overcome the five medals obtained in Rio de Janeiro, to which I said no; because there will be many more! We are convinced that this will work and that we are going to break the historical record”.

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The reality is that, in the last 10 years, the budget approved and assigned to the (Conade) has decreased 51% in nominal figures and 66% in real terms, if we consider the effect of inflation.

And it is not that there is less and less money in the public coffers, but that other priorities have been established ; since in the same period, the total expenditure budget of the federation increased 88% in nominal terms and 29% in real terms.

In the explanatory document of the budget, the Mexican Government of Lopez Obrador indicates that "as an important part of the promotion of sport of excellence, it will be promoted to raise the competitive level of high-performance athletes from their initiation and development through of the High Performance Centers”. For this, and to support the athletes who participate in the Olympic Games, a budget of 2,676.5 million pesos is assigned to Conade, which is equivalent to 0.056% of the total budget.

So: would more money to CONADE imply more medals?

Despite so many operational inefficiencies in the relationship between Federations and CONADE, the evidence shows that for 16 years (since 2008), the allocated budget has been positively correlated to the number of medals obtained in the Olympic Games.
When 8 medals were obtained in London 2012 (the best performance in history), 6,147.4 million pesos were assigned to CONADE, the largest budget amount allocated.

The lack of comprehensive scouting processes, support for the recruitment and training of coaches, tax incentives to promote private investment, transparency and accountability schemes applied to each Federation and the establishment of electronic trusts, are some elements that other countries with similar characteristics sociodemographic policies to Mexico have been established to promote the sustainable development of sport.
In an interview with Expansión five years ago, the diver Romel Pacheco highlighted that: “…for Mexico to achieve more success in the Olympic Games, there is a lack of more coaches, more schools, more study, more methodology applied to the sport, better salaries for coaches, that there are more centers to do sports and of course copy models from certain countries…”

Rommel Pacheco Lecturer Diver and Olympic medalist

Without a doubt, sport is a very big investment, however it can also be a way for human development: “Sport can play an important role in promoting social and economic integration in different political, geographical and cultural contexts. (...)

It can also encourage capital accumulation, facilitate the functioning of markets, and strengthen institutions through its effect on social capital, trust, culture, and crime," says the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in its publication “Sport for Development”.

According to the agency, an example of this is that high social capital reduces crime levels and improves the health of the population, which in turn reduces the need for public spending on security issues and health costs, which which frees up resources that can be used for other purposes. However, all these benefits have a great disadvantage: they occur beyond a six-year government period….
Alejandra Macías, Director of Research at the Center for Economic and Budgetary Research (CIEP) mentions that:
“The budget cuts in the AMLO government are not only going to be seen in sports, but in many other sectors, such as health and education, let's say that the sheet is not enough to cover everyone.
…There are some expenses that are committed and that leave you very little room to allocate resources to something else. And it is the big problem that we have right now with having or not having a Tax Reform. Yes, we need more income, but we also need to redistribute it to other sectors”, those that may not effectively generate development, but perhaps more votes.


Sources:, National Expenditure Budget and CONADE

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