Quai Antoine [Monaco], May 16 (ANI): Professional athletes who are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to register for a one-off welfare grant till May 31, the World Athletics announced on Friday.
Two weeks ago World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) announced that a USD 5,00,000 welfare fund had been created to support professional athletes who have lost a substantial part of their income due to the suspension of international competition this year.
A working group was formed to oversee the distribution of the funds and it has now finalised the eligibility criteria and application process.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who chairs the working group, said it had been a challenging and complicated task to define the eligibility criteria to ensure that grants from the fund were delivered to the athletes most in need.
"The IAF has allocated a substantial sum to the fund, and we hope to raise more through private donations from friends of our sport, but it has become apparent that the resources must be focused on athletes who are likely to be competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and are now struggling to pay for basic necessities due to loss of income during the pandemic,'' Coe said.
"We know this is a stressful situation for many athletes and we are trying to provide meaningful assistance to as many as possible as quickly as possible so they can continue to train for the competition season we have now scheduled for August to October, and for next year's Olympics,'' he added.
World record-holder in 1500m and Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj, who initiated this project and sits on the working group, said the loss of competition has had a huge impact on professional athletes because many relied on prize money to support themselves and their families.
The Fund will support athletes who have met the Tokyo Olympic Games entry standard and will provide welfare grants to be used to cover basic living expenses. The level of grant will be dependent on the number of approved applications and up to a maximum of USD 4,000. It is anticipated that the grants will be distributed directly to athletes from June.
Only athletes who have been impacted financially to the extent that they are unable to maintain their basic standard of living should apply. All applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
1. Must be qualified (by meeting the entry standard) for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
2. Must have never had an anti-doping rule violation.
3. Must be able to demonstrate a justifiable welfare need through a significant loss of income in 2020 compared to 2019.
Athletes who, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to receive an annual grant from their Government, National Olympic Committee, Member Federation or sponsors are not expected to apply unless they can demonstrate a justifiable welfare need as detailed above. (ANI)