Olympics 2012: What happened to Team SA's funding?
South African Olympic athlete, Lebogang Moeng, may not have sufficient funding to leave for Europe for his Olympic preparation this weekend. This is according to Winston Rapotapi MP, DA Shadow Minister of Sport & Recreation
Lebogang, the South African 400m champion, is one of 11 athletes who reached Olympic qualifying standards in their events during the Yellow Pages series, he said in a statement.
The 11 athletes received R200,000 from Athletics South Africa (ASA) for reaching the qualifying standards, amounting to roughly R18,000 per athlete.
This prize money would most likely be used to pay their way in Europe as many of the athletes, including Lebogang, would have to reach the standards again in international competitions, in line with the strict qualifying criteria set out by the South African Sports Confederation Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
It was initially reported that ASA would be responsible for the athletes' flights, their accommodation and their kit. Food, transport to and from base camps, and other amenities would have to be funded by the athletes themselves.
"It is estimated that each athlete will incur at least R15,000 in costs not covered by the current funding programme."
Rapotapi said the Democratic Alliance spoke to Lebogang. "He conveyed to us that he was informed by telephone earlier this morning [Thursday] that ASA was unsure of whether they would be able to handle the costs of his kit and that he may have to pay for this himself. The local newspaper in Lebogang’s home town, the Stellander, has initiated a campaign calling for donations to fund his trip. He is yet to receive a response."
The 22-year-old, who grew up in Ganyesa in the North West, said that his only wish is "to be successful and to come home with an Olympic medal".
"Many of our aspiring Olympians must be able to identify with Lebogang's story."
The Department of Sports and Recreation has allocated R31 million to preparing Team SA for the Olympics, a contribution of R70 million was made by the National Lottery and, according to a reply received from the Minister of Sports and Recreation [Thursday], R45 million has been made available by the private sector. Sport and recreation service providers (mainly national federations) also received a total budget of R132.5 million this year, a portion of which must surely be used to support Olympians in the various sporting codes.
"Where did this money go if athletes who are now ready for Olympic participation cannot be fully funded?
"We know that the Department of Sport and Recreation spent more than 60% of the National Lottery Board’s contribution on a lavish R46 million sports awards ceremony. I will, however, be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, to get clarity on the quagmire relating to the funding of our Olympic athletes."
The DA MP said: "Our athletes should be allowed to focus on their performance. The Olympic hopes of Lebogang Moeng and other South African athletes should not be compromised by a lack of funding. These are South Africa’s representatives, our sporting ambassadors and our best. We must make sure that they have the funding and support that they need to succeed".