Cash-strapped Sascoc to still reward Team SA winners

Confederation president warns prize money will be reduced

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks.
Sascoc president Barry Hendricks.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen

SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Barry Hendricks has committed to rewarding the Team SA Olympic medalists but has not revealed the figures.

Tatjana Schoenmaker won gold and silver medals in swimming while Bianca Buitendag won a silver medal in surfing.

Speaking from Tokyo in Japan yesterday, Hendricks told Sowetan that Sascoc would not go crazy with the incentives.

Hendricks will arrive in the country from Tokyo tomorrow evening and he made it clear that Sascoc is operating on a tight budget and will not go over the limit.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil Team SA won 10 medals.

Five years ago, gold medal winners pocketed R500,000, silver medalists took home R200,000, and bronze medalists received R80,000.

Hendricks said Sascoc would engage the government to assist them to reward the medalists as it would not be possible to reward Schoenmaker and Buitendag given their tight financial budget.

“We still have the Paralympic Games coming up and the Commonwealth Games next year. We are in a tight financial position and the truth is we cannot afford to pay them R500,000. We do not want to create a dangerous precedence with the Paralympics around the corner. We do not want to be irresponsible when it comes to incentive issues. We will give them something small and hope the government helps in that regard,” said Hendricks.

He said they had to match whatever they gave to Buitendag and Schoenmaker to the victorious Paralympians.

“If we give R500,000 to the Olympians we have to use the same measure for the Paralympians. Imagine if they get 30 medals, we would be in serious trouble because we do not have money reserved for that. We are looking into the possibility of rewarding our two Olympic medalists, and it is not true that we will not reward them. The amount will be much smaller than in 2016,” cautioned Hendricks.

Hendricks gave Team SA the freedom to go to Tokyo and enjoy themselves as he did not set a medals tally.

The team came back with three medals, and he insists that he is proud of them. He gave reasons why he did not set a tally of medals and defended the athletes even after sports minister Nathi Mthethwa expressed his disappointment in the team’s performance.

“We used to receive a lot of money from the government for funding. We are now getting R5m annually, and it affected our Operation Excellence programme. We cannot afford to pay or give our athletes the best medical treatment, send them to Europe or support their Olympic preparations. I did not set a target and told them to go and achieve to the best of their ability, and we are proud of them. They achieved given the Covid-19 pandemic challenges and lack of funding,” explained Hendricks.

He said Sascoc could not provide the monthly allowances to help the athletes to take their minds off other concerns as it used to.

Hendricks said Sascoc would go back to the government and reason with it to increase the funding budget to help prepare the 2023 Olympic team in Paris, France.

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