The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees along with Own the Podium unveiled a $5 million investment in a phased return to high-performance sport in a joint statement Monday as much of the sports world remains on hold in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding 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.
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.”