South African swimmers based in the United States were informed this morning that they would have to cover a portion of their flight costs for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the end of July.
Though the news was passed along to the athletes by Swimming South Africa, the decision was made by the South African Olympic Committee (SASCOC). In the email, American-based members of the Commonwealth Games team were told that the SASCOC would only be able to fund R10,000 of the travel costs for what they called “breakaway athletes,” which includes athletes based in the United States. That comes to around $936.
Swimmers are expected to report to Glasgow, Scotland on July 17th.
While that would cover most of the cost for U.S.-based swimmers living on the east coast (direct flights from New York City run as cheaply as $1,100 with a layover and overnight travel), for those based out of other areas of the country, the costs can be more prohibitive. Tickets from further west run more in the range of $1,500 for early-morning flights, or More toward $2,000 for later flights or direct flights (which is ideal for an athlete about to compete).
Several South African swimmers have expressed their displeasure with the decision, including those who were affected by the decision and those who were not. South African swimmers have a history of struggling to find federation funding for travel to major meets, though in years past, Princess Charlene of Monaco has stepped in to help.
Athletes who fly to South Africa to travel with the team will be able to have their flights booked through the SASCOC.
The South African roster for the Commonwealth Games, which was announced yesterday, can be seen here. Of the 21 named, 5 of them (Brad Tandy, Dylan Bosch, Roland Schoeman, Marne Erasmus, and Tara-Lynn Nicholas) train in the United States for most of the year.
The letter did indicate that Swimming South Africa was still negotiating with the SASCOC to increase the flight contribution. We reached out to the SASCOC and Swimming South Africa for comment, neither of whom responded.