The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has helped raise $1.4 million for the COVID Athlete Assistance Fund in partnership with the Athletics Advisory Council and National Governing Bodies, giving more than 1,200 athletes a supplemental one-time stipend of $1,163.
The fund was established in July to assist athletes who have incurred financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Games and other events acutely impacted Team USA athletes at a critical time in their preparations,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We heard directly from so many athletes and, with our incredible donors, recognized the opportunity to step in to help alleviate the financial burdens many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are facing.”
Following the postponement of the Tokyo Games, the fund was one of several initiatives the USOPC implemented to enhance athlete support, including the hiring of a mental health director, the addition of three independent mental health officers and the creation of mental health ambassadors. Beginning its fundraising effort on July 23 with a lead gift from Bill Ackman and the Pershing Square Foundation, there have been nearly 6,000 unique donors contributing to the athlete assistance fund. One hundred percent of the funds raised were given to eligible athletes who are currently training and in contention to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Games.
“Team USA athletes have it in their blood to give their best effort every single day, so it’s only right that the foundation brought forth that same level of commitment and drive,” said Christine Walshe, president of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. “Our generous donors are passionate about Team USA athletes, and we cannot thank them enough for finding it in their hearts to go above and beyond in helping athletes during these unique times.”