Sas­coc’s big rand headache

Cur­rency’s fall means Team SA’s Olympic prepa­ra­tion has be­come more ex­pen­sive

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

The de­clin­ing value of the rand has been a cause for con­cern for the SA Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion and Olympic Com­mit­tee (Sas­coc). The Olympic body is draft­ing its bud­get for the prepa­ra­tion of Team SA and their par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Rio Olympic Games in Au­gust. They are likely to need more money now than pre­vi­ously thought, and will be hop­ing the cur­rency sta­bilises or im­proves in the months ahead, as much of their prepa­ra­tion will be tak­ing place abroad.

Sas­coc chief ex­ec­u­tive Tubby Reddy said “the bud­get is a con­cern be­cause of the cur­rent [rand-dol­lar] ex­change rate”.

The rand has lost just over 4% of its value against the dol­lar this year and, by Fri­day, the cur­rency was trad­ing at R16.07 to the dol­lar, an im­prove­ment from the nearly R18 mark it reached ear­lier this month.

This is still a sharp in­crease from the R12 it was trad­ing at dur­ing the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing in Au­gust last year.

“Up to now, we con­tinue to sup­port our ath­letes through the Opex [op­er­a­tion ex­cel­lence] pro­gramme,” added Reddy, with­out re­veal­ing the pro­jected bud­get.

Opex is Sas­coc’s pro­gramme ex­clu­sively tailored to as­sist medal hope­fuls with fi­nan­cial, med­i­cal and sci­en­tific sup­port.

The Olympic gov­ern­ing body is ex­pected to send medal hope­fuls to in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion be­tween now and the Rio Games, in­clud­ing us­ing the state of the art high­per­for­mance cen­tre in Ge­mona, Italy, where Sas­coc has an ex­ist­ing agree­ment with the fa­cil­ity’s own­ers.

Sas­coc pres­i­dent Gideon Sam told City Press last year they would need more than R100 mil­lion to prop­erly pre­pare the team for Rio to achieve their 10-medal tar­get.

Sam was in Gi­bral­tar this week, where he at­tended a strat­egy work­shop of the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion in his ca­pac­ity as the body’s vice-pres­i­dent.

Reddy could not com­mit on the R100 mil­lion fig­ure ex­cept to say “it’s all spec­u­la­tion on the process at the mo­ment”.

He said they were hop­ing to have a clear fig­ure “closer to mid or end of Fe­bru­ary when we are fin­ished with the stake­hold­ers”.

He said it would not be easy to raise enough money and Sas­coc would de­pend on reg­u­lar fun­ders such as the Na­tional Lot­tery Dis­tri­bu­tion Trust Fund, and Sport and Recre­ation SA.

“We have al­ready made ap­pli­ca­tions [for fi­nan­cial sup­port] to the lot­tery, sports min­istry and the cor­po­rate sec­tor,” said Reddy.

In the pre­vi­ous Olympic cy­cle, Team SA re­ceived nearly R100 mil­lion for the Lon­don Olympics and Par­a­lympics in 2012.

This fig­ure was re­flected in Sas­coc’s fi­nan­cial state­ments for the year ended March 2013.

The to­tal amount was made up of R50 mil­lion from the lot­tery, R22.5 mil­lion from spon­sor­ships and R27 mil­lion from the sports min­istry.

Team SA se­cured six medals – three gold, two sil­ver and one bronze – at the Lon­don Olympics. The tar­get was 12.

Mean­while, Reddy pleaded with the na­tional fed­er­a­tions to re­fer to their signed agree­ment on the Rio Olympics team-se­lec­tion poli­cies.

His re­mark fol­lowed re­cent con­tro­versy around se­lec­tion cri­te­ria.

The na­tional men’s and women’s hockey teams, as well as the women’s rugby Sev­ens squad, won their re­spec­tive African cham­pi­onships, but their joy was short-lived be­cause of Sas­coc’s pol­icy that in­sists teams need to prove their worth at world, not con­ti­nen­tal events.

The hockey teams fell short at the Hockey World League, but upon win­ning the con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion in Oc­to­ber, they ap­pealed their case through the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, which ruled in favour of Sas­coc.

Sim­i­larly, the Spring­bok women’s Sev­ens team achieved the qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard of World Rugby by clinch­ing the African qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in Septem­ber, but this also did not ful­fil the Sas­coc cri­te­rion.

“We are gov­erned by in­ter­na­tional mem­ber­ship and the cri­te­ria have been agreed upon be­tween Sas­coc and the [na­tional] fed­er­a­tions.

“The coun­try needs to de­cide; we get ham­mered by the same peo­ple and the same me­dia if we take the easy route to qual­ify, and it’s even worse when we take a big team to the Olympics and come back with noth­ing,” said Reddy.

The first team an­nounce­ment for Rio is set to be made in May, with the re­main­ing squad mem­bers set to be un­veiled in July, the fi­nal date for qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

MEDAL HOPE­FUL

Chad le Clos will be look­ing to Sas­coc to help him per­form at his best at this year’s Olympics

PHOTO: HER­MAN VER­WEY

DE­CI­SION MAKER Sas­coc CEO Tubby Reddy

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