Canada to Invest $5 Million in High Performance Sports’ Return to Play

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Canadian Olympic Committee, Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium announced a $5 million investment Monday in the return of high-performance sport after the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds will be directed by a Return to Sport Task Force, which aims to set up a framework for Canadian athletic association to get back to competition. Swimming Canada published its “Return to Swimming” guidelines last week, with a stated goal of resuming major competitions in December.

Monday’s funding announcement is on top of a $72 million infusion to national and provincial organizations by the Canadian government last month to cover shortfalls of anticipated revenue after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021.

“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 press release. “Our focus is on investing in measures that optimize a healthy and safe return to training. As the environment changes, the funds will continue to invest in key priorities identified by our medical and technical experts.”

Sporting administrators in Canada have pledged to try and save as many sports organizations as possible. The outlay of funds in May included $5 million in athlete assistance. Returning Canada high performance sports to competition will restart the revenue flowing, but Shoemaker and others emphasize that safety is the priority in getting athletes back.

A return to competition for Canada’s high-performance sport, much like the return to training, will take on a much different form as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Those changes come with expenses, in terms of time and in terms of resources.

“This is a tremendous announcement by the COC, CPC and OTP and will be beneficial for all Canadian sport,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “This critical investment in the sport system is a much needed additional step to ensure a safe transition for Canada’s athletes and coaches in a return to training and, ultimately, a return to competition.”

“We are truly grateful for the effort and investment towards ensuring athletes can return to sport in a safe and healthy environment,” said gymnast Rosie MacLennan, the vice chair of the COC Athletes’ Commission. “The athletes are excited to get back to it but know this comes with great responsibility as we have a long road ahead of rebuilding. We remain optimistic to know the opportunity to return to training is giving Team Canada the chance to shine in Tokyo next summer.”

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