138 stars fly­ing to Rio ‘cat­tle class’

… and that sav­ing also ap­plies to 78 ac­com­pa­ny­ing of­fi­cials

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

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

Bridgitte Hart­ley

Ase­n­athi Jim

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