Olympic hopefuls grapple with financial strain ahead of Paris 2024

As the countdown to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris begins, Canadian athletes are facing significant financial challenges. Bobsledder Cynthia Appiah finds herself burdened with thousands of dollars in debt, including expenses for her sled’s runners and travel costs to competitions. Appiah’s teammate, Melissa Lotholz, resorted to seeking free accommodation in a church while competing in Lake Placid, N.Y. Meanwhile, Olympic rowing champion Andrea Proske is still paying off debts, with her mother resorting to planting an extra garden to support her caloric needs during training. These stories shed light on the financial struggles that many Canadian athletes face as they pursue their Olympic dreams.

Cynthia Appiah shot put

The athletes are calling for a substantial increase in the Athletes Assistance Program (AAP), commonly known as “carding” money, in the federal government’s upcoming budget. Currently, the AAP provides a monthly allowance ranging from $1,060 to $1,765, which is crucial for covering living expenses and competition costs not covered by their sport’s governing bodies. However, with the rising costs of training and competing, many athletes find themselves relying solely on this support to sustain themselves both on and off the field.

Cynthia Appiah bobsled

Despite an increase in AAP funding in 2017, athletes argue that further financial support is necessary to alleviate their financial burdens. The proposed increase of 18.8% would provide much-needed relief for athletes like Appiah, who struggle to make ends meet amidst mounting debts and living expenses. The demand for increased funding is not only crucial for individual athletes’ well-being but also for the overall success of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic teams.

In addition to the AAP, athletes also face challenges in securing sponsorships and prize money, leaving many trapped in a cycle of financial uncertainty. While a few elite athletes may benefit from lucrative contracts, such as Andre De Grasse and Christine Sinclair, the majority rely on government support to pursue their athletic careers. As Canada’s athletes gear up for the Paris 2024 Games, the call for increased funding underscores the importance of ensuring that all athletes have the resources they need to compete at the highest level.