Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Taxpayer, corporate cash funds Oly athletes

Almost $40M going to winter competitors

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CALGARY -- Canada's motto for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, is to "maintain the gain" from the 2010 Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

The organizations responsible for making that happen laud both the federal government and corporate community for keeping the financial pumped primed for athletes as the Sochi Games appear on the horizon.

Bal Gosal, Canada's Minister of State for Sport, and Own the Podium chief executive officer Anne Merklinger, both emerged from a bobsled clad in skintight suits Thursday to trumpet the almost $40 million going to Canada's winter athletes in 2012-13.

"We have more money in the year going into the Olympic and Paralympic Games than ever before," Merklinger said.

That's $31 million in direct funding to 11 winter sport organizations, plus another $6.9 million to athletes via the athletes assistance program this winter.

"We maintained all the sports' funding in the 2012 budget," Gosal said. "I can say proudly that sport funding was kept intact.

"When we look at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, how the whole nation came together, sport is something that unites communities, that brings the nation together and the pride we feel when we see our athletes performing at the world-stage level."

OTP distributes those taxpayer dollars based on a sport's ability to win Olympic and Paralympic medals.

Thursday's event staged on the finishing dock of Canada's Olympic Park's sliding track came a day after the Canadian Olympic Committee's announcement in Toronto of an eight-year sponsorship deal with Canadian Tire.

OTP oversees the competitive aspects of an athlete's life between Olympic and Paralympic Games. The COC looks after their needs on the ground at Games and prepares them for the Games environment.

The COC launched an aggressive corporate sponsorship campaign following the 2012 Summer Games in London, vowing to inject $100 million into Olympic sport over the next four years.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 25, 2013 C6

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