Canadian Olympic Committee invests $10 million in safe sport

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The Canadian Olympic Committee on Saturday pledged $10 million toward safe sport initiatives.

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“Athletes and sport leaders agree that the current situation in our system is untenable,” said David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the COC. “We all want a safe and accessible system that also produces results on the world’s stage. To get there, we need to work collaboratively to find and implement solutions. This contribution underscores the COC’s commitment to a safe and barrier-free sport system, now and in the future.”

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Shoemaker made the announcement in Montreal, during the COC’s annual session, which was attended by COC leadership, representatives of national sport organizations and sport partners.

A wave of athlete activism has swept the country in the past few months as current and former national team gymnasts, boxers, bobsledders and skeleton athletes have demanded independent investigations into what they describe as unsafe or toxic training and competition environments. The group Gymnasts4change has gone public with allegations of systemic verbal, psychological, physical and sexual abuse in their sport.

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Federal minister of sport Pascale St-Onge on Saturday commended the COC for their contribution to safe sport.

“We must keep working together and building on what has already been done collectively to make sure that our athletes are able to thrive in a sport environment that is free of abuse, harassment, discrimination and mistreatment,” she said.

The investment could fund prevention, education and governance initiatives, and will also continue the work the COC has done to increase mental health support for athletes and staff, and increased athlete representation.

“This is an important announcement from the COC, and an encouraging step in the right direction for the entire Canadian sport system,” said Rosie MacLennan, chair of the COC athletes’ commission. “In order for athletes to perform at their best, we need a system that is safe, equitable and that puts the mental and physical health of athletes at the centre. This new funding and the commitment to work with the athlete community will help make that a priority.”

St-Onge has also called a news conference for Sunday to outline a “series of actions and provide an update on safe sport.”

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