Olympics-Canada sports organizations face crisis without extra funding, says COC

The Olympic rings seen displayed outside the headquarters for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) in Montreal, November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) on Monday called on the federal government to increase financial support to national sport organizations, which it says are overstretched and face a substantial reduction in services and programs.

The request for additional funding, which the COC said was necessary to avoid the system taking a step backwards, comes less than five months before the start of the Paris Olympics.

A Deloitte study commissioned by the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) said the country's 61 national sports organizations need an extra C$104 million ($76.61 million) in direct funding annually.

The COC and CPC said the gap in funding is a result of 19 years of inflation since the last increase to sport funding in 2005 (C$20 Million), the sunsetting of issue-specific funding (C$57 Million), and the cost of increased demands on national sports organizations (NSOs) from stakeholders (C$27 Million).

Without additional funding, a five-year forecast showed the bodies that govern amateur sports across Canada would run a deficit of C$134 million while attempting to deliver on their primary mandates.

The COC said Canada's sport system is struggling to keep up with rising costs. Support for athletes at all levels will suffer without an increase to funding and the system risks taking a step backwards, it added.

"We have known this was a growing issue but seeing the numbers in black and white really highlight that we're on the brink of a crisis," COC's CEO David Shoemaker said in a statement.

"NSOs cannot continue on this trajectory. They can't run deficits, and if nothing changes difficult decisions will have to be made."

The COC and CPC said the NSOs were being asked to do more with fewer resources, and that the progress which has been made in safe sport, gender equity, community access and mental health support, amongst others, is in "jeopardy".

According to the budget request, 90% of NSOs rely on federal government funding as their primary source of revenue.

"Our day-to-day costs are increasing with inflation like every Canadian's, but we also have an important role in ensuring sport is as safe and inclusive as possible," said Canoe Kayak Canada CEO Casey Wade.

"We cannot properly fulfill those duties without an increase in funding."

($1 = 1.3576 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Michael Perry, Peter Rutherford)

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