In a tripartite joint statement earlier today by the Canada Olympics and Paralympic Commitee along with Own The Podium, unveiled $5m investment in a phased return to a high performance sport.
The fund will be directed to the areas of greatest need deemed by the Return to Sport Task Force, which has developed a national framework on how the resumption of sport activity will occur “in a responsible manner” from an athlete, coach and practitioner perspective.
“A return to high-performance sport does not happen overnight, nor is there a one-stop solution,” Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker said in a statement. “Our focus is on investing in measures that optimize a healthy and safe return to training [by athletes and coaches].
“As the environment changes, the funds will continue to invest in key priorities identified by our medical and technical experts.”
Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen O’Neill emphasized the importance “to get this right” and noted the financial investment is a strong first step in the recovery plan.
“Sport has the power to reunite and heal a nation, from our youth being physically active in all corners of the country to our nation’s best training for the podium,” added Own the Podium CEO Anne Merklinger, who believes high-performance sport will play a pivotal role in strengthening and rebuilding communities across Canada.
“Sport has the power to reunite and heal a nation,’ says OTP CEO Anne Merklinger.
The investment, according to two-time Canadian Olympic champion gymnast Rosie MacLennan, ensures athletes can return to sport in a safe and healthy environment.
“We remain optimistic to know the opportunity to return to training is giving Team Canada the chance to shine in Tokyo [at next summer’s Olympics],” she said.
Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi called the joint effort a “critical investment” and much-needed additional step to ensure a “safe transition for Canada’s athletes and coaches in a return to training and, ultimately, competition.”
The federal government announced in early May it would provide $72 million in relief funding to the country’s sport sector that has seen myriad events cancelled because of the pandemic.
National sport organizations and institutes will receive $34.5 million, provinces and territories $32.5 million and the Athlete Assistance Program $5 million.
“This is funding specifically devoted to what we’ve termed ‘amateur sport’ over the years, but amateur and Olympic sport,” Shoemaker told Devin Heroux of CBC Sports at the time. “National sports organizations, multi-sport service organizations and sports institutes in Canada. That’s a main point to focus as emergency funding, to make sure that they stay viable. They are an important part of the fabric of this country.”
El-Awadi painted a bleak picture in May as for the situation facing most sport organizations in Canada.
“There is a common understanding that not all NSOs are equal and that it’s possible some might get more money than others,” El-Awadi said. “I think there’s a chance some NSOs might not survive. There’s also a greater possibility NSOs will look very different after [the pandemic].”