New Lotto rules threaten gold-medal sports

Minister of Sport Thulas Nxesi
Picture: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

Cinderella sports face ruin if new, cost-cutting rules by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) are imposed‚ top SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) officials have warned.

Rowing‚ swimming‚ athletics and triathlon – which produced nine of the country’s 10 medals at the Rio Games last year – are all at risk.

The Lotto has introduced two hammer blows in its latest regulations.

One is a cooling off period that will prevent organisations from applying for a year after a successful application.

The other is downgrading Sascoc‚ the umbrella body responsible for sending teams to multisport events‚ to the status of national federation.

That means grants to Sascoc would be capped at R5-million for an effective two-year period – a massive cut from recent allocations that have topped R100-million a year.

As it is‚ national federations would get R5-million every two years instead of every year.

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said yesterday he had already been in talks with the NLC and would engage Sports Minister Thembelani Nxesi after his budget speech to parliament later this month.

“We agreed it would not be in the interests of South African sport‚ let alone Sascoc‚” Sam said.

“I am confident [we can change their minds]‚ otherwise we don’t have sport.”

A lack of funds had already meant cutting the size of the team for the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in July‚ Sam said.

His chief executive, Tubby Reddy‚ said Sascoc could be out of business in less than 12 months.

“As it stands we can keep our doors open until the end of the financial year‚ which is next year March,” Reddy said. “We have some resources of our own – Lotto money rolled over‚ we get a grant from the IOC and shares from Pumelela.

“There’s no point in being open. If you can’t deliver teams and prepare athletes‚ there’s no point.”

The biggest casualties would be Olympic and Paralympic athletes who receive Sascoc’s Operation Excellence funding‚ which totalled tens of millions of rands in the build-up to the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Star swimmers Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh were given in excess of R3-million combined since 2009.

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