R400m needed for Rio 2016 – Sascoc

2012-10-23 13:33

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) needs R400 million to prepare athletes for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The body said it was poised to announce the names of a “provisional squad” of athletes for the 2016 event.

Briefing members of Parliament’s sport and recreation portfolio committee today, Sascoc general Ezera Shabangu said funding was needed to establish a training centre in Europe.

“In terms of what we’ve calculated, we estimate that we will need – to support all the athletes – around R400 million to lead to Rio de Janeiro. This will also include a training base [in Europe].”

For South African athletes to be competitive internationally, they needed to be based in Europe to allow them to participate on the European circuit.

“It’s going to be more cost effective if we have a European base, so that we don’t spend money on flights, because each time they [the athletes] have to go to Europe, we have to pay flights and accommodation,” Shabangu said.

“But, if we have a European centre, that we are responsible for, they get based there – be it six months, or be it a year – and come back to [South Africa].”

Sascoc president Gideon Sam told the committee a provisional squad for the 2016 games would be announced at the end of October.

“We shall, at the end of this month, be announcing the provisional squad for 2016.”

He said this would include some of those athletes who had taken part in the recent London Olympics.

“[The squad will include] those who were in the [Olympic] finals and semifinals and the top 10, together with the youth we have been picking up from the Commonwealth Youth Games and the Youth Olympic Games.”

Sam said Sascoc would, from January 1, “support athletes in the squad so they can prepare themselves”.

Responding to a question, he revealed that Sascoc was cash-strapped.

“We don’t have cash ... We are battling. We are not cash-flush.”

He called on MPs to help Sascoc become part of the next consortium to run the SA National Lottery.

“We are pursuing [participation] in the national lottery. The Lotto licence is nearing its end now, and we want to be part of that consortium,” he said.

“So, we would probably come back to you and say: ‘Please assist us so we become part of the consortium that will have the licence for the lotteries going forward. Then the problems [with financing sport] are solved in this country.’”

Shabangu said Sascoc needed funding to help it “deliver the mandate that has been highlighted in the national sports plan, and also in terms of the implementation of the bidding and hosting strategy, because as a country, for us to bid, we need to have the money ... for that”.

She said South Africa was lagging behind in terms of hosting major events.

Sascoc CFO Vinesh Maharaj said it had spent R19.6 million on the recent London Olympics, and a further R16.7 million on the Paralympics.

It had received additional sponsorship to the tune of R14 million for these events.

South Africa finished 23rd on the medals table at the London Olympics earlier this year – the country’s most successful games since its re-admission to international sport in 1992.

Shabangu said a shortage of money was among the problems experienced by Team South Africa in the run-up to the London games.

“There was insufficient funding to support all athletes to qualify, because we could only support those who were on the Operation Excellence programme,” she said.

“We believe that if all the athletes had the necessary support, we could have qualified more to go the Games.” 

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