TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has called on national sporting organisations (NSOs) to brace for a further reduction in financial investments from private, corporate and Government agencies following Monday’s presentation of the National Budget.
The covid19 pandemic has crippled the international economy forcing the closure of several multi-national corporations and medium to small businesses.
Sport continues to be one of the biggest financial losers since the majority of tournaments which have resumed, after several months of postponement and cancellations, have done so without spectators.
While Lewis anticipates a challenging future for sport globally, he remains confident the Tokyo 2021 Games will get under way. However, he believes TT is expected to face a lengthy period of unwelcome change, owing to the covid19 pandemic.
“Sports in TT is in for a very difficult year, maybe even two years. With regards to the budget, I forecast some NSO’s will struggle more than others. It’s really going to be the strong who will survive.
“But I’m anticipating a tough, difficult budget. It’s not just only sport, it’s the entire country and all sectors. But I think that the NSO’s will be in for a very difficult period. Nobody anticipated covid19,” said Lewis.
Qualifying and preparing for an Olympics is very costly. Qualifier events, equipment, international travel, world-class training and experienced staff are just a few critical assets needed to equip an Olympian, much less produce a podium place.
According to Lewis, if there are dire financial situations regarding national Tokyo-bound teams, the Inter-national Olympic Committee (IOC) steps in to aid National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to offset costs towards athlete participation.
The TTOC, however, continues to develop multiple creative and innovative means of marketing and attaining sponsorship to help finance its national representatives.
“It’s also a sense of comfort from our (TTOC) part that the IOC will try to support the NOCs and their team athletes as best as they could with Tokyo 2021 in mind. The IOC will do what it can.
“The TTOC is very cognizant of the economic challenges the country is facing. We will be focusing a lot of effort, notwithstanding the challenges, on our marketing and working with our sponsors. It is a challenging environment,” he added.
Before the pandemic, several NSOs were already cash-strapped. The TT Football Association epitomizes this financial struggle having been indefinitely suspended by FIFA for failing to adhere to its statutes. Football and its stakeholders are now left to suffer while the rest of the globe presses on.
Lewis thinks the novel virus is testing the leadership capacity in TT and our creativity and innovation. He said the TTOC will continue focusing on finding opportunities amidst the medical crisis.
Although the future seems bleak, Lewis remains “confident.”
“I know the circumstances have proven very difficult for our athletes, those preparing and those already qualified for the Summer Games. The nature of sport is rising above adversities, failures and setbacks. I remain confident that we possess the necessary spirit, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to rise,” Lewis stated.
He reiterated the TTOC has been very creative and innovative in their marketing efforts and must implement new strategies to capture the attention of the corporate world. The Lewis-led fraternity is still going ahead with several fund-raising events in the near future destined to churn out finances in aid of TT Olympic athlete development.
“Our (fund-raiser) events must be in accordance with the public health guidelines. We are working on a number of initiatives, some out-of-the-box ideas that are necessary given the current circumstances.
“In context of the budget, some NSOs will make it and some won’t. It reorders societies, communities and markets and shapes the new normal. Our priority remains the athletes. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Sport and Community Development and NSO’s, in particular the ones likely to make up the Tokyo 2021 Olympic team,” he concluded.