Funding for National Sports Associations (NSA) by the Ministry of Sports will face further cuts, following a new circular issued by the Ministry of Finance advising Ministries to control public expenditure due to the ongoing economic crisis, Ceylon Today reliably learns.
Lack of U.S. Dollars has already resulted in the termination of services of several international coaches, while it is now set to directly affect the Sri Lankan contingents for many international events, including the two major Games this year, Commonwealth and Asian.
Commonwealth Games 2022 is the first major event set to be held in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August. A top official at the Sports Ministry stated that the probable team will be categorised into two sections – significant medal hope and also ran. Medal hopes will be funded by the Sports Ministry while the others will have to find their own funding through NSAs, sponsors or privately.
If any athlete/team who was not funded by the Ministry wins a medal, the Ministry is more than happy to reimburse their expenses, as well as grant the prize money for their medal, as per Ministry circular regarding this matter.
Meanwhile, Sports Ministry is set to write to the National Olympic Committee Sri Lanka (NOCSL), who also act as the local representative of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), regarding the number of athletes they can fund for the Games, Hoping NOCSL will be able to inform CGF about the situation and gain some form of concession, considering the ongoing economic situation in the country.
The Sri Lankan team comprised 139 members at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which included 80 Athletes, and competed in 13 sports and brought back six medals, the medals coming from Boxing and Weightlifting.
Asian Games is set to be held in China from 10 to 25 September and will face a similar situation. Sri Lanka sent its largest contingent of 174 athletes for the 2018 edition and returned empty handed, where the best performance was a fourth placed finish by the men’s 4x400m relay team and men’s rugby 7s team.
“Situation isn’t ideal. We have to make hard decisions which aren’t to our liking, but the situation of the country means our hands are tied,” said a top Ministry official.
The National Olympic Committee is set to discuss the matter today before taking any decision.
By Anjana Kaluarachchi