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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SPORTS AND RECREATION
23 September 2003
NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF SOUTH AFRICA: OLYMPICS 2004: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms N Bhengu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Road to Athens 2004
National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA)
The National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) presented on its progress towards the Olympic Games in 2004. The Committee was pleased with the presentation. Concerns raised included the racial composition of teams and progress made on developing amateur athletes from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
Mr. S Ramsamy (NOCSA President) assured the Committee that the preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens were well in progress and that NOCSA was liaising with the South African ambassador to Athens in preparation for 2004.
Mr Barends (CEO, NOCSA) informed the Committee that NOCSA was doing its best to prepare athletes for the impending Games. He listed a number of programmes and the financial support system that NOCSA provided for athletes. He mentioned development for future Olympic athletes. South Africa was ranked 46th in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and then 27th in the 2000 Sydney Games. Mr Barend pointed out that NOCSA was progressing in terms of ranks and development despite limited resources.
Mr Barends expressed NOCSA's commitment to develop sports in South Africa and redress past inequalities. He concluded his presentation with a summary of the financial statement for 2002/2003. Mr Mashinini, (NOCSA's first vice-president) concluded the presentation by highlighting the main points of Mr Ramsamy and Mr Barends' presentation.
Mr T Lee (DA) commented that he had been displeased about the recent public spats in sports, especially in rugby. He advised NOCSA to strive for a united front in sports. He urged that there be a united administration in sports. Mr Lee noted that amateur boxing was not listed as a priority sport in NOCSA's presentation. He found this dissatisfactory as South Africa produced excellent boxers.
Mr Ramsamy that boxers were bought by professional boxing experts at a price higher than can be afforded by NOCSA. He added that boxers off all races in South Africa generally came from disadvantaged backgrounds and hence were easily enticed by immediate financial gains rather than long-term career prospects.
Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) asked as to the number of athletes and sports codes representing South Africa in the Athens 2004 Olympics.
Mr. Ramsamy answered that 28 codes would go to Athens, whereas only 17 had gone to Sydney. Numbers of athletes would be known in April 2004. Athletes competing in the Games were chosen according to a two tier system, namely the world and continental systems. Athletes ranked first by world standards were definitely selected. Those selected by continental standards had to be eligible in terms of racial representativity.
Mr T Frolick (DA) maintained that the Committee learned that Cuba won the medals not by chance but through a committed plan of clear objectives and desired outcomes. The Chairperson later reiterated this point. Mr Ramsamy agreed that Cuba had made an impressive performance in the previous games despite being a developing country. He however, noted that Cuba, unlike South Africa, had a strong link between its political and recreational spheres. He said that South Africa lacked that bond and that in most of the time it created unnecessary delays in promoting sports. He then asked the committee to consider working closely with NOCSA as a way of establishing and developing a link between politics and recreation.
Mr Frolick asked if NOCSA had tried to operationalise its mission statement into a plan. Mr Ramsamy said that NOCSA had not successfully turned the mission statement into a plan. He once again reiterated the need for the committee to work closely with NOCSA and national sports federations.
Mr. Ncinane (ANC) wanted to know what Mr. Barends meant when he said that NOCSA's aim was to prepare athletes and not to win medals. Mr. Barends rectified the misunderstanding by stating that what he meant was that NOCSA's aim was also to prepare for sports codes that South Africa had not yet been represented in and that instead of wining medals in the coming games, NOCSA will be in the process of preparing athletes for these codes so that they could participate in subsequent Olympics.
Mr Ncinane asked why South Africa always celebrated Olympics day in Johannesburg and not in other provinces. Mr Barends said that the central committee was in Johannesburg but that it represented different provinces. Mr. Ramsamy added that NOCSA was trying to rotate the celebration as it had taken place in three provinces already.
Mr. Ncinane wanted to know the criteria that NOCSA was taking to ensure racial representativity in South African athletes taking part in the Olympic Games. He asked this question in the background of the fact that the South African swimming team in Sydney 2000 Olympics was all white. Mr. Barends said that NOCSA does meet with national sport federations to discuss representativity. He also reiterated the two-tier system of selecting athletes in which the continental tier ensures representativity, which in turn ensures that the sports federations are representative.
Ms Lamani (ANC) asked how far NOCSA was making progress in distributing bicycles especially in farm schools. Mr. Barends said that the programme of distributing bicycles was funded by the Japanese government and that the bicycles were distributed primarily to rural areas. He invited rural communities to apply for this programme.
Ms Lamani asked how psychological support was given to athletes. Mr. Barends explained that the couch was primarily responsible in getting information from the athletes and that information would be used to determine the athletes' psychological needs and intervention. He also added that there was a tremendous progress in the psychological well being of the athletes who undergo psychological support.
Ms Lamani asked how individual grants were allocated to athletes. Mr Barends said that athletes were allocated grants according to their world ranking. He added that the minimum amount was R1000 per month.
The Chairperson commented broadly on some of the obstacles that rural children who are talented in sports face. She stated that poverty and cultural inferiority hampered the development of athletic youth from disadvantaged communities. She appealed to NOCSA to look at the issues of the legacy of apartheid and how they create obstacles for athletics' development in disadvantaged communities. Mr Ramsamy agreed with the Chairperson's observation and he reiterated the need for NOCSA to work closely with the committee so that such socio-economic issues facing developing athletes could be taken into account when planning the development and preparation of athletes from disadvantaged background
The Chairperson thanked the committee and NOCSA delegates for the briefing. The meeting was adjourned.
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