SASCOC: Report on performance of Team SA at 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

Sports, Arts and Culture

12 October 2016
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by SASCOC, with input from the Department of Sport and Recreation, on the performance of Team SA at the Olympic and Paralympic games held in Rio during August and September 2016. 45 athletes, 22 officials, 7 medical staff, 7 GTM, and 10 sporting codes were represented.SASCOC also covered questions around the procurement of the tracksuits for the athletes, support and preparation during the Olympics, and the budget review. It was noted that Team SA had won 10 medals, in line with the targets set prior to the Games. Two gold medals were won, by Wayde Van Niekerk and Caster Semenya. The Paralympic team won 17 medals at the games, including seven gold medals, and athletics was the code that brought home the most medals. Prizes were R500  000 for gold, silver received R250  000, and bronze R100  000. SASCOC received R17.34 million for the 2015-16 financial year and the current expenditure, up to 30 September 2016, was R42.96 million. SRSA would consider the winning athletes from domestic and international competitions, talent identification and development, athlete and coach support and recognition, in order to then choose athletes for national sports teams.

The team tracksuits for the Olympic games were sponsored by 361ー, a sports manufacturing company from China, which was now contracted to sponsor all the teams sports clothing until 2020. It also had supplied to other countries, such as Brazil. As long as this company was sponsoring and there was no competitive bidder, SASCOC had no choice but to use them. The sponsor had essentially been chosen in the absence of any other local sponsor willing to step up to the challenge.

Several Committee Members had issues with the tracksuits and asked if there was no other competitive local country. They questioned why the tracksuits were ill-fitting and felt that they did not project a good image. They asked if any South Africans had tested positive for doping, suggested that SASCOC needed to challenge the international body setting the standard for qualification and asked for an explanation of Akani Simbine's position. They asked what the daily allowances were for athletes, said that transformation targets were not well reflected since only two black athletes won gold, asked what SASCOC had done to assist those in the deep rural areas to form clubs, asked questions around the targets, and why Boxing SA was not represented.

Meeting report

2016 Rio Olympic Games: SA Sports and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) briefing

Ms Ezera Tshabangu, General Manager: High Performance, SASCOC, briefed the Committee on various aspects of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (the Games). She said that the proposed team size for the Games was 137 athletes, 51 officials, 14 medical staff, 7 General Team Management (GTM), and the plan was that South Africa would compete in 14 sporting codes. The final team size was 45 athletes, 22 officials, 7 medical staff, 7 GTM, and participation in 10 sporting codes.

In preparation for the games, SASCOC continually engaged in presentations with the General Assembly and provided step by step processes. It was compulsory for athletes to do medical screening to check for any illnesses so that athletes did not collapse or pull out of competitions at the last minute due to ill health. SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) was the entity responsible for conducting all doping tests to make sure athletes were not using any prohibited performance-enhancement drugs. The managers at the Olympic Games were hands-on in ensuring that athletes were taken care of professionally and physically.

At the holding camp, SASCOC had to finalise any outstanding issues such as administration of athletes, clothing for the teams, and medical checks. On 22 July 2016 the President of SASCOC, together with the Minister of Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), saw the team off.

The target for performance at the Games was ten medals. The Team met that target and won their ten medals. Athletics won the four medals, and swimming won three medals, and one medal each was won in rowing, rugby 7’s, and triathlon. Two gold medals were won by Team SA in athletics by Caster Semenya and Wayde Van Niekerk.

For the Paralympic Games, athletics brought 15 medals, cycling won one medal, and swimming also won one medal.  Team SA won seven gold medals at the Paralympic games, with five of them coming from the athletics team.

The medal incentives were as follows; gold – R500  000, silver – R250  000, Bronze – R100  000.

Mr Gideon Sam, President, SASCOC said that the team for the Olympic games was sponsored by 361ー, a sports manufacturing company from China which was contracted to sponsor all the teams sports clothing until 2020. As long as the company was sponsoring and there was no competitive bidder, SASCOC had no choice but to use them.  The sponsor would be providing kits for all the multi-coded games until 2020 and the hope was that by that time there would be a competitive South African sponsor instead of sourcing foreign companies.

Mr Alec Moemi, Director General, Department of Sports and Recreation (SRSA), said that the Department was in talks with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) for connections with sponsors or companies who might support South African sporting codes with sponsorships for uniforms. Mr Moemi further said that while the general public had seemingly been preoccupied with the team kits, emphasis needed to be placed on the performance of the team.

Ms Tshabangu said that SASCOC received R17.34 million for the 2015-16 financial year and the current expenditure, up to 30 September 2016, was R42.96 million, due to the most recent Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The SRSA National Plan intended, from the winning athletes of both domestic and international competitions, as well as through talent identification and development, athlete and coach support programme, and the recognition system, to choose athletes who would then be used to form national sports teams within their particular code.

Ms D Manana (ANC) asked if there were any South African athletes who had been tested positive for doping.

Ms Manana suggested that the teams might have been forced to wear their tracksuits for lack of anything else, even if they did not wish to. She thought that the  company 361ー did not accurately design for or take the correct sizes of the athletes and they were wearing uniforms which did not fit properly and which did not do much for their image and presentation.

Ms Manana said that SASCOC and other African countries needed to challenge the international body that sets the standards for qualification into the competitions.

Mr S Malatsi (DA) said that it was obvious that when securing sponsorships, the option that offered the most benefits would be preferred. He said that it seemed unlikely that 361ー would have been the only bidder.

Mr Malatsi asked if the contract with 361ー was just for apparel provision for the four year duration until 2020. He further said that there was a process that took place before athletes were given their team kits, and surely they would have been measured up for their clothing.

Mr Malatsi asked what the provisions for daily allowances were for athletes at both the Olympics and Paralympics.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) said that he had a concern with the issue of concentration development, and that if an athlete’s concentration was driven by performance, then the results would be reflected.

Mr Moteka said that looking at the gold medal winners, he only saw two names of African athletes, Wayde Van Niekerk and Caster Semenya, and this meant the transformation targets did not seem currently to be achievable.

Mr Moteka asked how many local companies approached SASCOC and how much they had offered before the Chinese company 361ー was awarded the contract.

Mr Moteka said that SASCOC’s expenditure was more than the funding that SRSA offered and he asked where the additional funds came from for SASCOC.

Mr Moteka asked what SASCOC or its affiliates were doing to assist those in the deeper rural areas to form sports clubs.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that SASCOC’s mandate was original, in terms of high performance and preparation and he did not see the need for the new “winning team” mandate that SASCOC was trying to adopt. He suggested that SASCOC should further look into a national training centre.

Mr Ralegoma said that there were inconsistencies that were apparent when SASCOC was setting targets for winning 10 medals and SRSA was setting eight.

Mr Ralegoma was concerned that Boxing South Africa was not represented at the Olympic Games because this was an area where another medal could have been won.

The Chairperson gave a recollection of her netball playing days and how her team had to purchase their own track suits because they were given the old track suits of the soccer teams. She said that her team once rejected wearing hand-down track suits because they were too big and dirty. The Chairperson said that presentation of the team in its national colors was a demonstration of national pride and emphasised how important it was for the athletes to look neat and presentable, although the clothing supplied by 361ー did not manage to achieve this with the clothing provided.

Mr Sam said that SAIDS had not come back with a report indicating that any athletes tested positive.

In response to the comments on the uniforms, Mr Sam said that seamstresses were employed to address any issues that athletes would have with their track suits.

Mr Sam said that there was only one or two athletes that said they did not receive their monies and this was because they did not sign their contracts in time. As far as he knew, the daily allowances were equal for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes and if there were any discrepancies then he would check it up.

Mr Sam said that SASCOC had come to many engagements with the Portfolio Committee and other stakeholders in order to gain more funds and sponsorships. SASCOC had an experience at the 2004 Beijing Olympics where no sponsors came forward for the tracksuits for Team South Africa and SASCOC had to beg Puma, who had only come on board at the last minute.

Ms Manana interjected and said that she felt that Mr Sam was patronising the Committee.

Mr Sam responded that SASCOC only presented twice a year to the Committee and was trying to cover all the gaps on issues that the Committee was not aware of, but could arise.

Mr Sam said that SASCOC worked with International Management Group (IMG), and with its assistance had been able to secure funding from Telkom.

Mr Sam noted that interventions had been made for some athletes. Luvo Manyonga who was a young man from Paarl in the Western Cape, and the interventions SASCOC had made well paid off since at the Olympics he secured a medal. SASCOC opened a trust for Luvo and his family and his money was being managed on his behalf by a family member.

The Chairperson said that she hoped the family member would manage Luvo’s finances well.

Ms Tshabangu said that the international championships depended on the sporting codes.

Ms Tshabangu commented that SRSA and SASCOC did sign an agreement relating to the objectives for medals, and the target had always been ten.

Mr Moemi said that irrespective of how the tracksuits turned out, they were recognized as favourites at the Olympics by many international sport magazines and channels such as Fox Sports, Huffington Post, and the like, when measured against those of other countries with sponsorship from the likes of Armani, Stella McCartney and other famous names.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ralegoma to take over as Acting Chairperson.

Mr Moemi said that the tracksuits which were supplied by 361ー were chosen because no South African company came to the table and met the demands expected of them. 361ー also supplied the Brazilian teams with their tracksuits.

Mr Moemi said that comparing South Africa to other countries with a similar GDP and doing a comparison of their currency, South Africa fared better. It was not important to send athletes to tournaments merely because of qualifying, but it was important to look at their chances of winning medals in order that rewards justified the costs.

Mr Malatsi maintained that there was an issue with the sizing of tracksuits, and asked if the contract with 361ー was for apparel only. Mr Moemi and Mr Sam indicated that it was. .

Mr Moemi and Mr Sam nodded their heads in agreement indicating that the contract was for apparel while Mr Malatsi was still asking his follow up questions.

Mr Malatsi asked what the contestation was with Akani Simbine in the 200m race.

Ms Tshabangu responded that the sports federation decided which athletes they would enter in particular events, and this was not something that SASCOC interfered with, but it had requested clarification and had heard the reasoning and rationale behind the decision.

Ms Tshabangu said SRSA would provide the figures for allocation of monies spent on each athlete because the sums were different for each sporting code, depending on the equipment needed.

Mr Moemi said that he agreed that sizes of apparel differed depending on the manufacturer and some athletes tracksuits were oversized. The different sporting codes were located in different training facilities across the country, and some could not be measured up in person. If the athletes had waited to send through sizes to closer to the departure date, the tracksuits would not have arrived on time.

Mr Moteka asked Mr Sam not to raise his voice when speaking to Members as he had given the impression that he was upset with Committee Members. Members did indeed understand SASCOC’s mandate, but felt that, through affiliates, it should be assisting those in rural areas to form clubs so that they were included in plans for the future. The Chairperson thanked the delegation and their presentation and concluded the briefing.

Other business
The Acting Chairperson noted that minutes would be adopted at the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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