State funding granted to Irish athletes ahead of the Olympic Games has been extended to 2021.
An official announcement was made yesterday that this summer’s games in Tokyo would be suspended for a year following the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy confirmed today that the two year carding scheme which helps to fund Irish athletes had been extended to the end of next year.
“The carding scheme under which we allocate €2.5 million to our athletes is a two-year scheme,” Treacy said on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland.
“It is the intention of Sport Ireland to roll that out for a third year. Let’s put it this way: the athletes who are on the carding will stay on the carding until the end of 2021.
“It will remain, and that’s the right thing to do to support the athletes, we want to make sure [funding] is not a worry for them. The government have invested hugely in terms of this Olympic cycle: there has been €44 million invested across all of the High-Performance systems, and we need to make sure we look after the athletes.”
The carding system came into effect last year and guarantees athletes two years worth of funding as they pursue their Olympic dreams. The highest bracket of funding, known as Podium, is worth €40,000 and is given to high profile stars such as Ciara Mageean, Thomas Barr, Rhys McClenaghan, Kellie Harrington and the O’Donovan brothers.
Treacy acknowledged that the decision to postpone the games was inevitable, however, the four-time Olympian understands the disappointment involved during these unprecedented times.
“Every athlete is coming off a winter of training where their focus would have been on Tokyo in July, and for athletes, it’s all about peaking on a given day. They would have been working to that day with their coaches, so to have that gone now leaves a big vacuum.”