Half of SA's sports bodies will collapse if lockdown persists: survey

From left to right: Anaso Jobodwana, Simon Magakwe, Emile Erasmus and Akani Simbine after the mens 4x100m relay heats during Day 1 of the IAAF World Relay Championships at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on May 10, 2019.
From left to right: Anaso Jobodwana, Simon Magakwe, Emile Erasmus and Akani Simbine after the mens 4x100m relay heats during Day 1 of the IAAF World Relay Championships at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on May 10, 2019.
Image: Roger Sedres for the IAAF

More than half the country’s sports bodies will fold if the lockdown environment persists for another three months‚ a survey shows. 

And the figure rose dramatically to 83.7% if restrictions extended for a further three months beyond that‚ and to 95.9% for another six to nine months. 

The survey was conducted by the so-called War Room made up of sports officials‚ working alongside the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc)‚ to tackle issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

They have compiled a report showing the survey results with the tag line “Help us save our sporting federations” which has been submitted to the department of Sports‚ Arts and Culture. 

Of the 76 sport-specific bodies that comprise Sascoc‚ 47 — or 61% — responded. A further two provincial sport confederations also replied.

Almost 90% of sports bodies believed the government was not doing enough for them during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Asked if national government was “doing enough  to support and assist sports federations during this ongoing pandemic‚ 89.8% replied no. All of the remainder said yes. 

The ministry unlocked R150-million in relief funding for individual sports people and artists‚ but organisations were not targeted. 

Almost 43% of sports bodies said they wanted relief funding and another 34.7% said they’d like “an earlier return to play than currently envisioned in the levels system”.

Other suggestions included government support with operational costs including salaries‚ with some pointing out that funding and support could be required in 2021 “to ensure continuity”. 

Other proposals were that the department “double and expedite” annual allocations to federations and permit play without spectators and allow earlier return to coaching.

The survey showed that the biggest income drivers were affiliation fees followed by government and lottery funding‚ revenue from events and then sponsorships. 

More than 61% of the sports bodies had full-time employees‚ with 53.1% employing one to 20 people. 

More than 63% had part-time employees‚ with 44.9% employing one to 20 people.

The report didn’t say which federations participated in the survey‚ but it is understood that many of them are Olympic codes. 

The impact of those Cinderella codes grinding to a halt would be catastrophic for athletes hoping to get to the delayed Tokyo Games next year. 

If those bodies were to lose their operational staff there would be nobody to arrange and finance the staging of Olympic trials. 

Elected officials might have to step in to fill the vacuum‚ but that would create governance conflicts‚ blurring what should be a clear distinction between executive and operational functions. 

More than 71% of the responding sports bodies said they had lost monthly income ranging from R50‚000 to R500‚000 for March and April‚ with the remainder having lost less than R50‚000. 

More than 81% estimated they would lose anything from R100‚000 into multi-millions if they were unable to return to full operation by August 31.

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