The athletics governing body created a $500,000 fund to assist athletes after a proposal from former Moroccan runner Hicham El Gerrouj.
Rabat – The World Athletics (WA) and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) jointly created on Tuesday a fund of $500,000 to support professional athletes facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would especially like to thank Hicham for bringing this idea to us, and Prince Albert for his strong support of this project,” said World Athletics President and IAF chair Sebastian Coe.
“I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months,” he added.
Coe will chair an expert multi-regional working group to examine the applications for assistance which will be submitted through the WA’s six continental associations.
In addition to Olympic champion and 1,500-meter world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, the group will include Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, WA Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal and Abby Hoffman, and WA Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru, and Willie Banks.
Also among the experts are IAF Executive Committee member and former WA treasurer Jose Maria Odriozola, and Athletics Federation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph.
The group is due to meet this week to establish a process to award grants and seek a way to raise more funding in order to help as many athletes as possible.
Meanwhile, El Guerrouj extended his gratitude to Coe and World Athletics for reacting positively to his proposal, stressing that athletes must come together as a global community to help each other. The Moroccan athlete had previously approached WA to suggest the initiative.
“The suspension of competition has had a huge impact on many professional athletes because they can’t earn prize money so I’m really pleased that we have found a way to assist them,” concluded El Guerrouj.