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Could the Greek Olympic team cease to exist?

Nov 9, 2012, 8:32 AM EDT

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The Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) said Thursday that budget cuts to the program could lead to the “disintegration of Greek sport” as soon as the new year after an 80 percent cut is put into effect in 2013.

“Greek sport will simply disappear unless the plans are revised,” HOC vice president Sakis Vassiliadis said. “We feel we have the obligation to our athletes, coaches, staff and more importantly young aspiring athletes to try and change the situation and that is what we are doing with our proposals.”

According to the HOC, which referred to the cuts as a “brutal attack,” the sports federations will begin to shut down unless proposals that include a request of $76 million in funding from state-run betting company OPAP, $11 million from staff reductions, and a $25 million grant for the federations are accepted.

The cuts are a surprise to no one due to the economic crisis that Greece has faced in recent years. The national sports budget has been cut by 50 percent year-over-year since 2010 and the sports federation has ceased operations twice in twelve months to protest the enormous cutbacks they’ve faced since 2008.

“At Beijing in 2008 we had 156 athletes, at London 2012 there were 103,” Vassiliadis told Reuters. “I fear we could see as few as 25 in Rio if the situation is not changed.”