(ATR) National Olympic Committees are grateful for financial assistance to be provided by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of Tokyo 2020.
ANOC acting president Robin Mitchell announced the approval of a financial support program last week following a video conference with fellow ANOC leaders and the director of Olympic Solidarity James Macleod.
"It is an altruistic and admirable gesture which deserves all our applause, our recognition and gratitude because undoubtedly for our athletes these resources are going to be of great benefit," said Colombian Olympic Committee president Baltazar Medina.
"The National Olympic Committees must make commitments in a short period of time to prepare for the qualifying events that we still lack, which implies not only intensifying practices with our athletes, but having many resources to protect their health," Medina said.
"In our present situation, all the funds helping the sport entities suffering from coronavirus crisis are important and valuable," said Slovakia NOC secretary general Jozef Liba, also noting that the Slovak NOC has tapped into its own reserve fund called "Ready to Help".
"The specific process for the distribution of the funds to NOCs is currently being finalized," ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg says."A Technical Working Group, comprising representatives from ANOC, each of the Continental Associations and the Director of Olympic Solidarity, has been established to determine the process and will have their first meeting next week. Once agreed, it will be the responsibility of each Continental Association to distribute the support to their respective NOCs, in cooperation with Olympic Solidarity."
"NOCs, like people and organizations around the world, are facing significant challenges and hardship," said ANOC acting president Robin Mitchell. "We stand in solidarity with all those who have been affected and we are committed to supporting all NOCs in any way we can.
"Safeguarding the health of athletes, staff and all stakeholders is of course the most important priority, but we also recognize that the financial implications of this awful pandemic will be felt by NOCs even after the immediate health threat is overcome."
NOC leaders expanded upon how the coronavirus pandemic and resulting Olympic postponement has individually affected their athletes, national federations and overall daily operations, all causing necessary sacrifices.
"As the Olympic Committee we are in an expectant situation, but aware that we will all have to adjust our budgets in the short term," said Chilean NOC president Miguel Angel Mujica. "My main concern has to do more with the national federations, who have seen some of their sources of income suspended due to the lack of activities and because the same thing is happening to their international federations."
Norwegian NOC secretary general Karen Kvalevåg echoed similar concerns.
"So far, the postponement of the Tokyo Games has first and foremost been a challenge for the athletes, the teams and their support systems," Kvalevåg said.
"The Norwegian NOC top sports department, Olympiatoppen, has been able to adjust their daily operations in order to lay the groundwork for optimalized preparations for Tokyo 2020.
"However, there is no doubt that the postponement has financial consequences, and therefore we are in an ongoing dialogue with the government on the possibility of an extra financial grant to ease the financial burden for athletes and the national federations," she said.
The ANOC financial assistance program follows an IOC Executive Board announcement on May 15 to provide a financial envelope in response to the COVID-19 crisis and to discuss how ANOC could further help NOCs address challenges identified in a questionnaire.
The announcement also follows ANOC and the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee joint decision to cancel this year’s ANOC General Assembly in Seoul and reschedule it for 2021. ANOC confirmed that the money that had been allocated for the 2020 General Assembly will now be put towards the NOC fund. The total amount of the fund, which also includes money from the ANOC reserve, will not exceed $11.5 million.
"The postponing of the congress was good news, especially for countries like Brazil that are currently experiencing the height of the pandemic," said Brazilian NOC president Paulo Wanderley.
"To join this meeting, we would have flight difficulties, precisely at a time when we must do social isolation.
"Of course, the resources that will be allocated to the National Olympic Committees is also good news.
"I believe that, not only Brazil, but many countries, must be feeling a decrease in resources that would be being used in the preparation of athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games," he said.
NOC leaders addressed how they will potentially utilize monies received from the ANOC fund.
"BOC is going to use this money in supporting athletes, mainly in training and participation in competitions that make possible to classify and prepare for the Olympic Games," Wanderley said.
The Chilean NOC president Mujica added: "We have not received formal information on the figures or more detail of what the amount will be, nor the mechanisms or the projects in which those funds can be used.
"In addition, in Chile we are in the midst of knowing from the government what the budget changes for sport will be in the remainder of 2020, so once we have all the information we will make the most appropriate decisions, always thinking about the development of our federations and our athletes."
Homepage photo: ATR
Written by Brian Pinelli at home in Prague
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