By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Romell Knowles, president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee, is calling on the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to not cut the subvention of elite athletes, considering that it is critical for them to receive every penny they can get to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Knowles sent a letter to the ministry after it was reported in The Tribune on Tuesday that the subvention for elite athletes is expected to be cut by over $269,000 as outlined in the budget presented in the House of Assembly last week by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.
Knowles, whose BOC is expected to receive about $40,000 in the projected budget, said with the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, being postponed until July, 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are still anticipating great performances from our athletes who are under a number of constraints.
“The restrictions of competitions, coupled with restrictions to train for the most prestigious sporting event in the world, The Tokyo Olympic Games, brings with it a set of abnormal circumstances and expenses for our athletes,” Knowles wrote.
“In addition to preparation expenses, which I believe may increase due in part to share demand, the mental preparation may be an additional but necessary expense, our athletes may be forced to endure.”
Knowles said preparation for these games have their own peculiarities and with them come additional expenses.
“In this regard, we respectfully ask that you escalate our request for consideration to delay any and all reduction to elite athletes’ subvention who are in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games,” Knowles continued.
“Given these difficult set of circumstances brought on by an abnormal COVID-19 environment, elite athletes may require more financial assistance, not less,” he said.
In that regard and on behalf of the elite athletes, Knowles said they are requesting that the ministry delay any reduction in subvention so that our athletes may be better positioned to prepare, qualify and ultimately perform at their optimum at the most prestigious sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games.He said they are looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with the ministry and the government in this regard, as well as funding that is expected to be provided to the various sporting federations and associations.
“Sporting federations find themselves having to provide more assistance in these most difficult times,” Knowles said.
“It is our hope there are no reductions in federation grants in this Olympic cycle. Hoping to bring resolve and comfort on behalf of our elite athletes. I am available to discuss this and other matters soonest.”
In the budget report, the recurrent expenditure for the ministry is estimated to be around $18,938,187, about $5,143,194 less than what was expended in last year’s budget of $24,081,380.
This significant reduction in the budget is expected to drastically change the landscape of sports in the country in the aftermath of COVID-19.