Courtesy: U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In partnership with the Athletes’ Advisory Council and National Governing Bodies, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced that more than $1.4 million was raised for the COVID Athlete Assistance Fund by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation, giving 1,220 U.S. athletes a supplemental one-time stipend of $1,163. The fund was established in July to assist athletes who have incurred financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the postponement of the Tokyo Games and other events, acutely impacted Team USA athletes at a critical time in their preparations,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We heard directly from so many athletes and, with our incredible donors, recognized the opportunity to step in to help alleviate the financial burdens many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are facing.”
Beginning its fundraising effort on July 23 with a lead gift from Bill Ackman and the Pershing Square Foundation, the USOPF raised $1.42 million in just two months from its network of loyal and passionate donors, including nearly 6,000 unique donors contributing to the athlete assistance fund. One hundred percent of the funds raised were given directly to eligible athletes who are currently training and in contention to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Games. While fundraising for the COVID Athlete Assistance Fund ended Sept. 30, the foundation continues to raise money for the Team USA Fund, which supports U.S. athletes through financial aid, high-performance programs and services, and the advancement of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
“Team USA athletes have it in their blood to give their best effort every single day, so it’s only right that the foundation brought forth that same level of commitment and drive,” said Christine Walshe, president of the USOPF. “Our generous donors are passionate about Team USA athletes, and we cannot thank them enough for finding it in their hearts to go above and beyond in helping athletes during these unique times.”
Following the postponement of the Tokyo Games, USOPC and AAC leadership designed and deployed a COVID-19 athlete impact survey to better understand the disruption to the Team USA athlete community. In response to the athlete feedback on financial well-being during the pandemic, the fund was one of several initiatives the USOPC implemented to enhance athlete support, including the hiring of a mental health director, the addition of three independent mental health officers and the creation of mental health ambassadors. More details on the USOPC’s mental health services and resources can be found at TeamUSA.org/MentalHealth.
For additional details on the athlete assistance fund, visit TeamUSA.org/COVIDAAF.