Canadian Olympic Committee announces funding boost

The Canadian Olympic Committee says it will be doubling the financial support for Olympic sports over the next four years with an injection of $100 million.
Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic committee, says "we are strengthening our sports system for today and tomorrow" with the funding plan announced Wednesday. (Francis Vachon/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Olympic Committee will be almost doubling its financial support for Olympic sports over the next four years with an injection of about $100 million, president Marcel Aubut said Wednesday.

Ottawa has also promised to keep its funding for Olympic sport intact, he said.

"This money ... coming from the [federal] government  … plus the $100 million, will guarantee a bright and golden future for Canadian Olympic athletes," he said on a conference call that included presidents of some of the national sports federations.

Aubut says the COC spent somewhere just over $50 million over the last four years, with almost all of it coming from corporate donors, and is only able to increase that amount because of their support.

"This announcement would not be possible without the unbelievable support of Canada's corporate community," he said.

The $100 million will go to support both summer and winter events as well as to prepare for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

It represents an injection of close to $50 million in new money, Aubut said.

When pressed for more information on where the new money is coming from, Aubut pointed to the extended sponsorship agreements already announced this year.

"We have already announced huge agreements with the Hudson's Bay Co., with Royal Bank of Canada RBC, with Suncor, with General Mills, with Bell Canada, with Air Canada."

Aubut said there are more deals to come before Christmas and some next year. But he provided only broad strokes to describe where the money will go.

"One, absolute priority [is] high-performance sport. Two, games preparation. Three, best-in class . . . and four, a specific envelope, a very unique envelope, for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games."

He promised a series of more detailed announcements across the country to flesh out where the money will be spent.

Aubut says the money will be part of the 2013 to 2016 high-performance action plan for athletes, coaches and national sport federations.

"Athletes and coaches are at the centre of everything we do," he said.

The announcement was welcomed by the leaders of some of Canada's national sports federations.

"I think, after Vancouver, we know now that its OK to participate but it's a very good feeling to win and to be part of the top countries in the world," said Marie-Claire Rouleau, president of Speedksating Canada.

"Money makes it possible."

Rebecca Khoury of Karate Canada gave credit to Aubut and the COC for their work.

"Once again the team of the Canadian Olympic Committee has more than delivered for the country," she said.

The commitment Aubut says he has received from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Bal Gosal, the minister of state for sport, is also good news for Canadian athletes.

Ottawa had extended support for the Own the Podium program through 2012 but has yet to offer details of what will follow. It has provided about $70 million a year that is divided between summer and winter sports.