Thu | Jul 9, 2020

Blake welcomes World Athletics welfare fund

Published:Wednesday | June 3, 2020 | 12:15 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (left) and Dr Warren Blake, JAAA president.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (left) and Dr Warren Blake, JAAA president.

President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, described World Athletics’ decision to create a welfare fund as an excellent move by the world’s governing body for athletics.

World Athletics announced last month that a US$500,000 ($72 million) welfare fund had been created to support professional athletes who have lost a substantial part of their income due to the suspension of international competition this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The application window ended on May 31.

Blake told The Gleaner that he is not sure how many Jamaican athletes had applied for the grant because they had to apply directly to World Athletics for this assistance, but believes it was a good move by the world’s governing body for athletics.

‘A Good Move’

“I think it is a good move, but based on how they have put it, it is going to really impact only a limited number of athletes because you have to meet the Olympics qualifying standards, and that is intended to limit the number of athletes who can apply,” said Blake.

“We haven’t gotten feedback as to how many people have applied for this assistance programme because remember that these athletes would apply directly to (World Athletics) for this assistance,” he said.

The level of grants will depend on the number of approved applications up to a maximum of US$4,000 ($572,000).

Only athletes who have met the Tokyo Olympic Games entry standard will be provided with welfare grants to be used to cover basic living expenses.

Also, as part of the eligibility criteria, athletes must have never had an anti-doping rule violation. They also must be able to demonstrate a justifiable welfare need through significant loss of income in 2020 compared to 2019.

The JAAA boss underlined that a lot of Jamaican athletes are struggling financially to survive and to pay their bills and, therefore, that welfare assistance programmes will benefit them a lot.

“I think it is an excellent move, especially in these tough times when a lot of the Diamond League meets have been cancelled and there are no other ways for some of our athletes to earn because a lot of them don’t have any sponsorship agreement with sports goods manufacturing companies,” Blake stated.