World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) announced that 193 athletes from 58 member federations will be offered one-time grants of US$3000 through an Athlete Welfare Fund announced in April to help support professional athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially totalling US$500,000 when its creation was announced on 28 April, generous contributions since have made US$600,000 ultimately available to athletes in need.
The IAF received 261 eligible applications by the 31 May deadline. These applications were evaluated by the IAF to ensure they met the eligibility criteria, under the oversight of an expert working group, chaired by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
To be eligible athletes had to be qualified for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (by entry standard), had to be able to demonstrate a justifiable welfare need through significant loss of income in 2020 compared to 2019, and must never have had an anti-doping violation.
Athletes ranked in the top six on the World Rankings, those who finished in the top six in any Gold Label Road race in 2019, and those who earned more than US$6000 in prize money from the 2019 Diamond League were not eligible to apply in order to help focus support to those most in need.
The Foundation expects to begin making payments to athletes as early as the end of this week.
Members of the working group included Olympic champion and 1500m world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi (representing the WA Athletes’ Commission), WA Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal (Audit, Risk & Finance Committee) and Abby Hoffman, WA Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru and Willie Banks, IAF Executive Committee member and former WA treasurer Jose Maria Odriozola and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “My thanks to all the working group members for their input throughout this process over the last two months, and since they all agreed to be part of this working group at the end of April when we announced the fund. Their contributions, particularly at the outset to shape the criteria and fund focus, has meant we’ll be able to get money quickly to those athletes most in need through a robust but simple process, which is what Hicham El Guerrouj and I hoped when we first discussed the idea in late April. A final thanks to Hicham for the initial concept and his personal generous contribution.”