Runners take the start of the women's U.S. Olympic marathon team trials in Atlanta, the United States, February 29, 2020. (Photo: VCG)
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) officials launched a COVID-19 athlete assistance fund Thursday after a survey showed 75 percent of athletes have had earnings cut, 26 percent losing more than half.
The financial hit due to consequences from the coronavirus pandemic comes as most of them face another year of training before their chance to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, which were to have started Friday before COVID-19 forced postponement to 2021.
"In communicating with Team USA athletes and their families, we've learned of the profound impact many are facing as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and the Tokyo Games postponement," USOPC chief executive officer Sarah Hirshland said.
"We've heard loud and clear there's a heightened need to help alleviate the financial burdens many are facing, and it's an opportunity for us to help and further support athletes during this unprecedented time."
The United States was battling an 11.1 percent unemployment rate Thursday after 1.42 million Americans filed for jobless benefits last week.
The fund will allow eligible U.S. athletes to obtain a one-time stipend to assist with the financial hardship caused by the global pandemic and Olympic postponement.
All of the funds raised will go to athletes training for Tokyo and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The fundraising effort will go through September with a goal of providing money to athletes by November.
The athlete impact survey results also sparked stronger efforts to provide mental and physical health resources and health insurance.