Sascoc’s big rand headache
Currency’s fall means Team SA’s Olympic preparation has become more expensive
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.
Chad le Clos will be looking to Sascoc to help him perform at his best at this year’s Olympics
DECISION MAKER Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy