COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Together in partnership with the Athletes' Advisory Council and National Governing Bodies, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced the launch of the COVID Athlete Assistance Fund. The fund is intended to provide a one-time stipend to U.S. 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.
"In communicating with Team USA athletes and their families, we have learned of the profound impact many are facing as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tokyo Games postponement," said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. "We have heard loud and clear there is a heightened need to help alleviate the financial burdens many are facing, and it is an opportunity for us to help and further support athletes during this unprecedented time."
The USOPC has enlisted its fundraising arm, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Foundation, to work with its network of donors to raise funds, 100% of which will go directly to eligible athletes who are currently training and in contention to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Games.
The fund, launched today in conjunction with the one-year mark to the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo, coincides with the start of the foundation’s Giving Week program, which runs through July 30 and celebrates the resiliency of Team USA athletes. The USOPF’s fundraising efforts around the fund will run through Sept. 30, with a target of providing direct financial support to athletes by November 2020. Donations can be made at support.TeamUSA.org/CAAF.
An anonymous long-time USOPF supporter has made an initial contribution of $500,000 to help launch the fund, and Ralph Lauren, an official Team USA Outfitter since 2008, is committing 25% of the purchase price from each unit from its Team USA One-Year-Out Collection to this effort.
The USOPC and AAC leadership designed and deployed a COVID-19 athlete impact survey to better understand the impact on the Team USA athlete community, including athletes’ financial well-being as a result of the pandemic. The survey revealed that 75% of U.S. athletes who responded have had their earnings impacted as a result of the pandemic, with 26% losing more than half. Based on key learnings from the survey, the athlete assistance fund is one of several initiatives the USOPC is implementing in an effort to enhance athlete support.
In addition to the fund, the USOPC, in coordination with NGBs, will continue to elevate athlete services and support, including strengthening efforts to promote mental and physical health, financial well-being through direct stipends and Elite Athlete Health Insurance, and high-performance support and training assistance.
For additional details on the athlete assistance fund, including information on the application process, visit TeamUSA.org/COVIDAAF.