138 stars flying to Rio ‘cattle class’
… and that saving also applies to 78 accompanying officials
SOUTH African athletes and sporting officials may have a ticket to go to the Olympics in Rio ... but they will be flying “cattle class”.
The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) confirmed this week all officials and athletes will fly economy class.
138 athletes and 78 officials will make their way to the sporting spectacle, with the Olympic body insisting there will be no special treatment for officials who will also fly “in the back of the plane”.
For the duration of their stay, all from Team South Africa will be based at the Olympic Village where nearly 11 000 other athletes as well as some 6 000 coaches and other officials will sleep, eat and train.Local organisers said the complex, which they described as a “city within the city”, was the largest in Olympic history.
In addition to the 31 17-storey towers, it includes a huge cafeteria and gym, a post office, a first aid centre and bank.
While SA’s Olympic body could not confirm the total cost of sending an individual athlete, they have said accommodation and food costs have been covered due to the team staying at the Olympic village.
There were also no visa costs, as visas were not required for South Africans travelling to Brazil.“We are still working on these figures, as it varies depending on athletes’ equipment needs,” said Jean Kelly, spokeswoman for Sascoc.
The Olympic body says it has been left astonished by recent media reports claiming athletes will have to pay for their own flights.“All athletes travelling with Team SA will be departing on July 23 on a SAA flight to Brazil. No athletes will be paying for their flights,” said Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy.
He said any athlete, not accompanying Team SA and making their own way to the Games, would also have their flights paid for by their federations, who would then be reimbursed. “At the last Olympics in London, athletes who on their own were reimbursed R10 000, while this year we are paying R12 000.
“The reports in the media implying all athletes have to pay for their flights are a complete distortion of the facts.”
sameer. naik@ inl. co. za
Cameron van der Burgh