Canada’s Olympic, Paralympic athletes get $5 million upon return to sport

Canada’s Olympic, Paralympic athletes get $5 million upon return to sport

Canada’s athletes face increased manpower and facility costs, plus regular testing, when they return to the pool, track, gym and pitch.

The purpose of the $5 million jointly announced Monday by the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees and Own The Podium is to cover those extra costs imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money will come from cutbacks to other programs, COC chief executive officer David Shoemaker said.

“We want to make sure if our athletes across the country are returning to training, that they’re doing so in a way that’s not just safe for them, but is also safe for their families and safe for their communities,” he said on a conference call.

“Just as public health was our North Star when Canadian athletes decided to stop training back in March, public health will remain our North Star as we begin a phased-in approach to return to sport.”

The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled to open in July were postponed until 2021.

Canadian athletes, particularly those in indoor sports, have been largely confined to training at home since March.

The federal government announced last month a $72-million injection into the amateur sport system to try to keep organizations afloat.

“While the government’s investment was focused and aimed at the viability of sport, for us, this investment is aimed at the return to sport and they’re slightly different focuses, but important,” Shoemaker explained.

“Our role as sport-performance partners nationally and specifically for the Canadian Olympic Committee, is to invest in putting Canadian athletes and Canadian teams on podiums.”

Swimming Canada released guidelines Friday on what training groups must look like when pools get the green light from public health officials to open.

The four pools where the national team trains in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Saanich, B.C., are currently closed.

One swimmer per lane in the early phases means smaller training groups in the pool over several hours, thus increasing hours for coaches, staff and facility rental.

“Our norm is to have a full training squad all in the pool at the same time,” Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi said.

“Definitely the costs will increase in the short term.

“These funds come into play and are super-critical in kickstarting the high-performance program.”

Paralympic athletes requiring physical assistance to pursue their sport may face extra challenges upon return, according to Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen O’Neill.

“If an athlete needs some care with transfer, how do we look at all elements in that environment to make sure it’s safe and healthy, with equipment transfer either into a chair or a canoe/kayak or a sport chair?” O’Neill asked.

Own The Podium makes funding recommendations distributing $70 million annually to national sport organizations based on medal potential, and also provides technical advice to those bodies.

A return-to-sport task force, chaired by OTP head Anne Merklinger, has yet to determine how the $5 million will be distributed.

“This is our next conversation at the task-force level,” Merklinger said.

“When you look at outdoor sport, their ability to return to sport will vary greatly compared to an indoor aquatic sport, for example, where you have more sophisticated protocols, sanitizing and cleaning methodologies required.”

Shoemaker was hopeful, but not certain, that all Canadian sport bodies will survive the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has had very significant impact across sport in Canada,” he said. “Certain national sports organizations are suffering severely from it.

“The government announced a $72-million investment that was designed in large part to make sure our sport organizations remain viable going forward. I like to think that will be the case.

“The story is not completed on COVID-19. We don’t know how this all finishes yet. We can’t be certain as we sit here today that will solve the problem.”

As with pro athletes, Olympians and Paralympians will require regular testing as they mix with staff and other athletes upon return to training.

“It’s certainly within our contemplation that this investment could go towards having the capacity with machines and test kits to test Canadian athletes, coaches and support systems in institutes and other training centres for COVID-19 and other infectious disease,” Shoemaker said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Most Read