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Underfunded Greek Athletes Have to Self-fund, Struggling to Get to Rio

rio 2016Greek athletes are losing sleep over more than rigorous training schedules as they prepare for the Olympics in Rio. With virtually no funding and inadequate training facilities the economic crisis is taking its toll on the Olympic hopefuls.
Gymnast Vasiliki Millousi will be participating in her third Olympics in Rio. The 31-year-old explained to that she recently decided to move to Thessaloniki to train because at the other Olympic training hall in Athens there is no staffed doctor, it lacks medicinal supplies, and the roof leaks when it rains.
“Thessaloniki has a recently renovated gym, with new equipment that we got from the World Federation,” Millousi said. “But the conditions in Greece are overall a deterrent for training at such a high level….In Greece, we don’t even get the basics.”
Basically professional athletes in Greece have had to fund their training on their own since 2009, when they last received state funding.
They have to go about in search for funding from private companies who have been asked by the Hellenic Olympic Committee to help the athletes.
This has not made the situation more palatable for athletes, as Spyros Kapralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee told
“Their federations help them, of course, but the help doesn’t meet the need when someone is a professional athlete. They have to compete with athletes from all over the world, athletes who have great help from their countries,” Kapralos said.
He also added that there is a disconnect between the funding available and who actually receives the money. For example, Kapalos said that nearly 70 percent of available money from the state for athletes is spent on administrative costs, and that the athletes never see a penny. Because of the high admin costs, facilities are left with leaking roofs and under-staffed with trainers and doctors, to say the least.
“Parents are the real sponsors of their children,” he added. And, with the economic crisis affecting families across Greece, it is not hard to imagine why the athletes are struggling to reach Rio.
Even training facilities such as the Olympic Stadium of Athens complex are being hit hard by the economic crisis. Although athletes are currently training there, they have no idea how much longer they will be able to continue doing so, since a new agreement that the Greek government has made with lenders specifies that the Olympic Stadium will be sold off to help pay back the country’s debt.

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