Team SA needs more bucks for the Tokyo Olympics

Ravi Govender is the acting chief financial officer at Sascoc. Picture: Daniel Mothowagae
Ravi Govender is the acting chief financial officer at Sascoc. Picture: Daniel Mothowagae

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is hoping for an improved budget to deliver Team SA to the Olympic Games in Japan, Tokyo, next year.

The embattled federation has budgeted R30 million for the Olympic team, with about R17 million allocated to the Paralympic team.

This is a far cry from nearly the R100 million that was pumped into the team ahead of the 2012 Olympics in London, with an array of sponsors also contributing massively to the Paralympic team.

Sascoc acting chief executive Ravi Govender told City Press that the projected budget for Tokyo 2020 might shift, and was subject to the Olympic governing body meeting certain conditions and including the implementation of findings by a ministerial inquiry that was established more than a year ago to investigate allegations of maladministration and financial irregularities at Sascoc. The sports department is one of Sascoc’s funding sources, alongside the National Lotteries Commission.

“There’s a budget on the table of R30 million for the Olympics – the able-bodied team – and a budget of just over R17 million for the Paralympics. That budget was developed some time back,” said Govender, speaking on the sidelines of Sascoc’s annual general meeting at Olympic House in Houghton, Johannesburg, yesterday.

He said that they “are revisiting the budget” and also re-examining “some of our selection criteria. So, that budget might shift.”

Asked where the money would come from, Govender said: “The National Lotteries Commission is prepared to help us. We’ve got a few months – not much time – to actually complete all the processes that the ministerial report requires us to complete. And once that is done, you heard the minister [Nathi Mthethwa] say, the [sport and recreation] department, as well as the national lottery, will come to our aid.”

Mthethwa was a keynote speaker at yesterday’s meeting, where he pleaded with Sascoc to “help us to help you”.

“Sascoc has the responsibility to lead Team SA to major sports events, and the expectation is that our athletes must be provided with as many opportunities as possible,” he said.

“The ministerial inquiry into the affairs of Sascoc was a clear indication that, unless the recommendations are implemented, the trust that had been broken because of the damning findings would not have been restored. I had no alternative but to continue the process started by my predecessors.”

Mthethwa said he had met with Sascoc on more than one occasion to try to fast-track some of the reforms. He said the department was “mindful of steering clear of perceived interference that could upset international sports bodies such as the International Olympic Committee”.

Meanwhile, Sascoc president Gideon Sam admitted that “it’s not been an easy year”.

“We are not immune to problems around the economy that the hitting the world,” said the 70-year-old, addressing his last annual general meeting prior to retirement.

Sam pointed out that reduced funding and budgets cuts were among the most challenging realities his organisation had to get used to.

The lotteries commission now considers Sascoc a federation and, as such, its funding for Sascoc has dropped from R100 million to R10 million.

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