SA olympians get govt backing
Johannesburg - South Africa's Olympic prospects were boosted on Friday when sports officials received more than R80 million from the government and national lotteries to help with their preparations for the London Games.
"This amount is an attempt to boost the morale and readiness of our team," sports minister Fikile Mbalula said after handing over a cheque for R34.2 million to officials from the Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and various sports federations.
SASCOC received R26.2 million, with the remainder given to various sports federations.
The SA Football Association got R3 million, Swimming SA R2 million, and SA Hockey, Athletics SA, and the Paralympic team R1 million each.
National Lotteries Board (NLB) chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda said his organisation was giving R47.5 million to SASCOC, up from allocations of R14 million in 2009/10 and R17 million in 2010/11.
SASCOC has previously complained of underfunding, leading to a decline in South Africa's Olympic performance. Having won six medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, South Africa picked up a single medal - Khotso Mokoena's long jump silver - in Beijing four years ago.
Mbalula used the presentation, in front of SASCOC executives, heads of federations, athletes and media, as an opportunity to invite corporate South Africa to support the Olympic effort.
"We believe that government cannot do this alone. We need all South Africans, especially our private sector, to come on board and contribute towards the success of our team in the Olympic Games. We hope the investment we make today will encourage the private sector to do likewise," he said.
SASCOC first vice-president Hajera Kajee said he was optimistic about the team's prospects in London in July and August.
"We are humbled by this support that will help achieve our athletes' dreams of being Olympians. Minister Mbalula has been fully behind SASCOC and our Olympic effort since he came into office. I trust we will deliver and I'm confident that we can bring home 12 medals," Kajee said.
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