Athletes preparing to compete at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games in July and August are caught between a rock and a hard place. Following a decision by the International Olympic Committee to go ahead with the Games despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, athletes are concerned about their health, but also about losing sponsorship and retainer contracts.

With almost all global sport at a complete standstill due the outbreak of the COVID-19; as a result, income through prize money has also dried up for these athletes.

Athletics coach and 1991 Comrades Marathon winner, Nick Bester, says these are hard times for athletes.

“The whole world is in the same boat. We’ve got an extremely emergency situation in the world and, unfortunately, the athletes have to run races to make sure that they have a good living because most of them, including elite athletes, get a little from sponsors and clubs. It’s just enough to cover the rate expenses and help with preparation and flight accommodation, but the real salaries and stuff is when these athletes go out and show the world how well they prepared and win races, (and) they receive the price money. That is very bad, but we are in a situation at the moment with Nedbank. We are going see how we can assist our athletes with something extra.”