Sascoc has previously complained that it has lived on scraps, leading to a decline in South Africa’s Olympic performance. Having won six medals in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, South Africa managed just a single medal – Khotso Mokoena’s long jump silver – in Beijing four years later.
Sports minister Fikile Mbalula handed over a cheque for R34 240 000 [3 980 000 euro] to Sascoc from the Department of Sports and Recreation at a breakfast function in Johannesburg on Friday, as a token of government’s support for the Olympic athletes.
“We are here today to offer our unwavering support to all our athletes who have qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games. We do this to show our undivided support for the operational excellence of our athletes who are busy preparing for the London Games. This amount is an attempt to boost the morale and readiness of our team,” Mbalula told an audience of Sascoc executives, heads of federations, athletes and media.
Mbalula also used the occasion 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.
NLB chairman Alfred Nevhutanda said that, as an entity of the state, the lottery would support Mbalula’s initiative to ensure a winning Olympic team and donate R47.5 million [5.5 million euro] to Sascoc.
This is a steep increase from the NLB’s previous allocations of R14 million [1.6 million euro] in 2009/10 and R17 million [1.97 million euro] in 2010/11.
“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,” Sascoc first vice-president Hajera Kajee said.