Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Blake: JAAA can’t afford athlete bailout

Published:Friday | March 20, 2020 | 12:24 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (second left) uns the anchor leg of the 4x400m Womens relay event as teammate Stephenie Ann McPherson (left) looks on at the 2019 World Athletics Championships held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, October 6, 2019.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (second left) uns the anchor leg of the 4x400m Womens relay event as teammate Stephenie Ann McPherson (left) looks on at the 2019 World Athletics Championships held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, October 6, 2019.

Apart from the potential cancellation of the Olympic Games, one main concern caused by COVID-19 for the 2020 track and field season is the loss of earnings by athletes.

The worldwide outbreak of the virus has forced meets like the Grenada Invitational, the Penn Relays, and others to be cancelled, reducing athletes’ earning capacity.

Unlike others who may benefit from the $25 billion stimulus package Minister of Finance and the Public Service Nigel Clarke plans to inject into the local economy, Jamaican professional athletes may have to count their losses as they do not fit the criteria to receive a payout from the Government.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president Warren Blake says he does not foresee a bailout for the athletes as his administration does not have the resources to do so.

“With the resources that we have, we are just not able to compensate athletes for lost income,” Blake said. “We have spoken about it at the local level, and we do not have the resources to do so.”

Those in sporting disciplines like athletics garner most of their earnings from appearance fees and prize money when they compete in meets on the circuit.

“I am not sure they will be able to make up for the lost earnings because they are paid to appear at meets, and if they win, there is prize money,” Blake said.

The administrator says that he is not opposed to approaching the Government about providing a bailout for the country’s professional athletes, whose earning potential is also crippled by the coronavirus.

“We have not had those talks yet, but it is something to look into,” Blake said.

Clarke’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme, which has four elements, does not include athletes who garner most of their earnings from international athletics meets.

akino.ming@gleanerjm.com

The four elements of CARE:

1 Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash, which will provide a temporary cash transfer to businesses in targeted sectors based on the number of workers they keep employed.

2 Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash, which will provide a temporary cash transfer to individuals where it can be verified that they lost their employment since March 10 [the date of the first COVID-19 case in Jamaica] because of COVID-19. This will be available for a specific period.

3 Special soft-loan fund to assist individuals and businesses that have been hard hit.

4 Supporting the poor and vulnerable with special COVID19-related grants.