Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange gets the fine details of the programme of events for the 2017 National Junior and Senior Championships from the Chairman of the Organising Committee, Ludlow Watts (l). Obviously liking what they are hearing are: Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Delroy Williams; President, JAAA, Dr Warren Blake and Chief Executive Officer, RJR/Gleaner Communications Group, Gary Allen (l-r).

The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport wishes to clarify matters surrounding the Athletes Assistance Programme.

The programme, implemented for the first time in March 2020, was designed to provide financial assistance to national sportsmen and women as they concentrate on final training for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, made a public statement on 9 February 2020 in which she advised that the Athletes Assistance Programme would commence on 1 March 2020 and continue into mid-July.  She said the programme would benefit athletes who had qualified or were on the brink of qualifying for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Additionally, the Minister advised that athletes in the programme would receive $20,000 per week towards their preparation, to be disbursed on a monthly basis.

On the confirmation from the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government that the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games had been postponed, the Ministry suspend the programme.

In our news release issued on 24 March 2020, the Ministry committed to pay sums under the Athletes Assistance Programme up to the end of March as our athletes put their training programmes on hold.

All athletes who had begun their training programme up to the time when the programme was suspended received payments in keeping with our commitment.

Our Paralympians had not yet begun training when the decisions to postpone the Tokyo Games and suspend the Athletes Assistance Programme were taken and were therefore not eligible to receive payment under the programme.  This was communicated in a letter to the leadership of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, duly acknowledged by the General Secretary.

The Ministry has continued engagement with sportsmen and women — including Paralympians — who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.  We have helped Paralympians to apply for relief under the government’s CARE programme, under which 9 out of 13 Paralympians have been awarded Compassionate Grants.

Additionally, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport continues to negotiate for special assistance from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for the sports sector.  Minister Grange is to make an announcement in this regard on Tuesday during her contribution to the Sectoral Debate.

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