Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) Chief Executive Officer Chris Overholt today outlined a bold new vision for the future of Team Canada by announcing more than $132 million in funding for the Canadian sport community.
During an address to the Empire Club of Canada in Toronto, Mr. Overholt announced that the COC would be renewing its commitment to investing $37 million over the next four years into high performance sport through Own the Podium. At the same time, the COC will be committing $16 million – which will in turn be matched by the federal government – in new funding to fuel the growth and development of the next generation of Olympians.
As part of the new funding model, the COC is committed to investing $5 million into a new Coaching Enhancement Program, the first of its kind in Canada, which is designed to bring critical financial support to assisting our National Sport Federations with the important work of attracting, developing, and retaining the best coaches in the world for years to come.
Over the last four years, the COC has invested $10 million in an effort to strengthen the capacity and resources of this country’s National Sport Federations. On Thursday, Mr. Overholt announced the COC is committing an additional $5 million to this program over the next four years.
The COC’s new funding plans also include $1 million in funding for Game Plan, a program designed to ease the athletes’ transition into the workforce after they retire from competition by investing in their personal development through education and networking opportunities while they are still competing, and $2 million for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSI Network) across Canada where a large number of elite athletes train.
In total, the COC now expects its commitment to the Canadian sport community to be more than $132 million which represents an increase of 140% from the 2009-2012 period.
None of these funding milestones would be possible without the support of the COC’s corporate sponsors and partners, including Bell Canada, RBC, HBC, Canadian Tire, Air Canada, and Deloitte.
In parallel to this, Mr. Overholt stated that the COC had streamlined its organizational structure and workforce plan to align itself with future needs in order to be in a better position to deliver for athletes and partners. He went on to say that while these decisions are never easy, maximizing investment in high performance sport must remain the priority.
The Rio Olympic Games this past summer represented a watershed moment for Team Canada as our athletes achieved unprecedented success in a non-boycotted Games, winning 22 medals including 4 gold, 3 silver and 15 bronze, thereby tying the previous record medal count from Atlanta 1996, but surpassing the number of gold medals.
It certainly bodes well for the future as the average age of Canada’s Olympic medallists in Rio was under 24, and 52 of Team Canada’s top eight finishes came from first time Olympians. To ensure the growing success of future generations of athletes, the COC is committed to investing in data analytics to identify and track the most promising athletes while giving them ever more resources to develop.
In that respect, Mr. Overholt also called on the federal government to take a fresh look at the current Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) and is asking Ottawa to closely examine how it’s supporting carded athletes. The AAP in Canada has not been adjusted for inflation in 11 years, and that is not a recipe for sustained Olympic medal performance.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, while the next summer Olympic Games are due to be held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020.