LONDON (Reuters) – The professional International Swimming League (ISL) will fund its contracted athletes through to next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics with monthly payments from September, the series announced on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: The giant Olympic rings are seen in the dusk at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
It also plans a five-week combined training and competition event from Oct 14 to Nov. 17 this year at a location to be decided and subject to developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hungary’s 2016 triple Olympic gold medallist Katinka Hosszu told Reuters the ‘Solidarity Program’ would provide peace of mind for many swimmers at a time of uncertainty with some countries in lockdown as they battle the new coronavirus.
“For us athletes, it’s really important to get over this period of time and everyone will be able to prepare for next summer,” she said.
“They have some security as well as some racing and training camps to look forward to.”
No financial details were provided but the swimming world website http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com said 320 athletes would get $1,500 a month with $11 million set aside for wages, bonuses and prize money in a condensed season.
The ISL launched last year as a fast-paced competition with 10 teams from Europe and North America featuring an array of world and Olympic champions and bankrolled by Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin.
The Tokyo Games, originally scheduled to start in July this year, have been postponed to July 23-Aug 8, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have decided to provide support for our athletes in 2020-2021 by implementing the ‘ISL Solidarity Program’ during which the ISL will organize a radical swimming event unprecedented in swimming history,” the ISL said in a statement.
“Each athlete that has signed or will sign a contract with an ISL Club will receive an equal amount of money per month, starting 1st September 2020 until 1st July 2021.
“This financial grant shall assist the swimmers during these challenging times to prepare for major events in 2021 and a full ISL season in 2021/22.”
The ISL said it had listened to coaches and athletes and respected the need for a full training preparation running up to the Olympics.
It added that all expenses would be paid for the training and tournament.
The pandemic has put the sporting calendar on hold, with many athletes forced to train at home. The European aquatics championships scheduled for Budapest in May have been postponed to August subject to review.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge