Sports fans and athletes from Colombia took to social media to criticise the government's plans to slash next year's national sports budget by 60 percent.

According to a document released by the government, the annual allowance for sports and recreation would decrease from $195m to $73m.

Thousands of Colombians have started an online campaign called #NoRecuertenMisSuenos (Don't Slash My Dreams), extolling their country's athletes and calling on the government to reverse its decision.

(Translation: "What if we cut the salaries of MP's who deplore us, and not of the sportsmen who dignify us?")

(Translation: "The children and young people deserve a sports future. Don't take their dreams away from them")

Gold Olympic medalist Mariana Pajon was one of many national athletes to take her plea online, saying: "It is frustrating that in the best moment of Colombian sports, we now have less budget."

"We're back to the time when athletes would starve," she said in a Twitter video.

Sharing the screen with Pajon, former weightlifter and silver Olympic medalist Oscar Figueroa added that the government budget "means more ruined dreams, means lack of opportunities to the younger generations who are the future," of Colombia.

Critics say the budget cuts would prevent many of the country's world champions and Olympians from participating in important events or having proper conditions to train.

However, President Juan Manuel Santos explained the government would continue to support its athletes despite the economic hardships Colombia is going through.

"Economic difficulties caused by the drop in the price of gas have forced us to make tough decisions," the president said in a video posted on Twitter.

(Translation: "In the last seven years, sports have been a priority and will continue to be. #ForOurSportsMen we are committed to maintaining that support."

"In sports, we had to reduce the budget destined only for sports infrastructure (we already have thousands of stadiums), but we are still guaranteeing our support to our sportsmen", Santos said.

Besides sports, other areas suffering budget cuts include agriculture, environment and education. Policing and peace maintenance will be increased, prompting even more criticism - with many asking if the ceasefire with FARC rebels shouldn't be bringing more revenue to the government.

(Translation: "Culture, education and sports are less important than the military forces in a country going through a peace process?")

Source: Al Jazeera News