World Athletics, in partnership with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), has created a $500,000 fund to support struggling athletes who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Due to the suspension of various international athletic tournaments, including the 2020 European Athletics Championships, many athletes have lost their prime source of income. However, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has insisted that those athletes will be supported to ensure that they can financially withstand the global health emergency.
He stated: “I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months. Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we’re mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible.”
According to Coe, the idea for the fund was brought up by Olympic champion and 1500m world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj who will also be a part of the multi-regional working group deciding which athletes require assistance.
The IAF, established in 1986 by Prince Albert II of Monaco, has also allocated its own resources from its 2020 and 2021 budgets in order to fund the process.
HSH Prince Albert II added: “I created more than 35 years ago the International Athletics Foundation with the late Primo Nebiolo to encourage and promote athletics and grant financial assistance to athletics federations and the most deserving athletes. Since its inception the Foundation has distributed for these purposes more than US $ 30 Million. I am delighted that we can put our resources behind this initiative so we can make a difference to the lives of athletes who are suffering financially at this time.
“We hope that this support will help those athletes preparing for international competition, including next year’s Olympic Games, to sustain their training, support their families and that this will relieve them of some stress in these uncertain times.”
The members of the multi-regional working group, chaired by Coe, will include: Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, World Athletics Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal and Abby Hoffman, World Athletics Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru and Willie Banks, IAF Executive Committee member Jose Maria Odriozola, and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph, along with the previously mentioned Guerrouj.