(Reuters) - World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) have come together to launch a $500,000 fund to help athletes in financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global governing body said on Tuesday.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought sporting events worldwide to a halt, leading to a loss of income for athletes.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe will chair a group assessing applications for assistance. The group will meet this week and also look into how to raise additional funds.
“I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months,” Coe said in a statement.
“Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we’re mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic,” he said.
“We’re hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year. In the meantime we’ll also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek... to help as many athletes as possible.”
The Diamond League, the elite track and field competition, was forced to postpone events in seven cities scheduled between April and June due to the outbreak.
The next scheduled meet is in London on July 4 followed by Monaco on July 10.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson