World Athletics, track and field's governing body, has today launched a $500,000 fund to support its athletes suffering financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Sebastian Coe said 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 competition while the world combats the global health emergency.”
The fund was launched together with the International Athletics Foundation, the organisation which supports charitable causes in the sport, and has allocated resources from its budgets for 2020 and 2021 to assist athletes who require financial support through this period.
Coe will chair a multi-regional working group to assess the applications submitted by athletes, which will be submitted through World Athletics’ six area associations.
Members of the working group will be made up of Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, World Athletics executive board members Sunil Sabharwal and Abby Hoffman, 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.
The working group will meet this week to establish a process for awarding and distributing grants to individual athletes and to assess other ways to raise additional money for the fund.
Coe said: “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 are 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.”
Last week, the European Athletics Championships in Paris became one of the biggest casualties on the athletics calendar this year as the event was cancelled outright.
The World Athletics Indoor Championships, due to take place in Nanjing, China in March, were pushed back 12 months, while the next outdoor World Athletics Championships, slated for Eugene, Oregon in USA in 2021 will now be staged in 2022 because of the postponement to next year of the Tokyo Olympic Games.