Princess Charlene of Monaco’s offer to host the South African Olympic swimming team ahead of the 2012 Olympics had nothing to do with Swimming South Africa’s financial woes, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has said.
Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said SSA’s apparent financial woes were a “separate issue”.
Lotto had not allocated funding for the Olympic year and although Telkom had indicated that it would be continuing its sponsorship – with these major financial backers having “closed the tap”, this presented difficulties, he said.
However, Reddy said: “The princess’s decision to host the team was made sometime last year after discussions about where the team would have their base camp, and she has offered to provide facilities, meals and accommodation which has nothing to do with SSA’s finances.”
The princess had offered the team her support last year when Durban hosted the International Olympic Organising Committee.
“It has nothing to do with bailing them out. The princess was always going to host them,” said Mark Keohane, the spokesman for Sascoc, the multi-code body.
He was commenting on a report by Eyewitness News Sport which said that the princess, former South African Olympian swimming star Charlene Wittstock, had come to the aid of SSA by offering to host the country’s swimming team for free ahead of the London Olympics.
Swimming SA was in financial difficulties following the loss of a major sponsor and “problems” with Lotto funding, the report said, adding that Sascoc had recently called for financial assistance.
“This is old news. Someone has mistakenly connected the two issues (the offer and the financial situation). The team was always going to go there.”
Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said that the princess will allow the team the chance to base operations in the principality from June 1.
“We only have to cover travel expenses… She’ll provide the facility, nutrition and accommodation,” Reddy said.
Keohane said that the Olympic swimming squad had not been chosen yet. The team could number anything from 15-30 swimmers, he said.
The SSA office was unable to comment as reaction had to come from the chief executive, Shaun Adriaanse, and the president, Jace Naidoo, who were unavailable.
Team SA hope to win 12 medals at the Olympic Games in London in July and August.
“The medals would come from swimming, athletics and maybe cycling, canoeing and rowing,” Tubby Reddy said.
He was speaking after the Sascoc leadership had briefed Parliament’s portfolio committee on sport and recreation on Thursday. This was after they had spent R34 million on preparations for the Olympics and R15m more to “deliver the team”. He expected between 12 and 14 sport codes of 26 to qualify for the games. They would send a team of more than 100 to the games, he said.
Sascoc president Gideon Sam told the committee that it was R50m short for incentives to athletes in London. – Daily News