Dubai: World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) have launched a $500,000 (Dhs 1.85 million) fund to support professional athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who also chairs the IAF, has said that the fund would be used to assist athletes who have lost most of their income in the last few months due to the suspension of international competitions.
Established in 1986 to support charitable causes involving athletics, the IAF - under the Honorary Presidency of Prince Albert II of Monaco - has allocated resources from its budgets for 2020 and 2021 to assist athletes in need through this process.
Coe will chair an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics’ six Area Associations.
The members will include Olympic champion and 1,500m world recordholder Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi (representing the WA Athletes’ Commission), WA Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal (Audit Committee) and Abby Hoffman, WA Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru and Willie Banks, IAF Executive Committee member and former WA treasurer Jose Maria Odriozola and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph.
The working group is expected to meet later this week to establish a process for awarding and distributing grants to individual athletes and to look at other ways to raise additional monies for the fund.
Coe said it was important that the sport supported its athletes most in need during the current circumstances. “I would especially like to thank Hicham for bringing this idea to us and Prince Albert for his strong support of this project. 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,” Coe remarked.
“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 competitions 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,” he added.