I write in support of other families who are still waiting for promised funding from Tokyo Olympics and are questioning the allocations of Olympic Solidarity Funding.
As some background; Jane Nicholas qualified a Cook Islands spot for the
Tokyo Olympics with her performance at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in
Spain in 2019. Canoe Slalom is one of the two Olympic canoeing disciplines, the
other being canoe sprint. The athletes are strapped into a very light canoe and
paddle against the clock through hanging gates over white water rapids. It’s
physically challenging and very technical.
As we know the Olympics were then postponed by a year due to the coronavirus
Jane then had to balance her career and her training for the next two
years to enable her to put down a creditable performance when the games were
She did everything required of a High-Performance Athlete and took a
full year out of her medical training to enable this. This level of commitment
paid off when she paddled her way into
the semi-finals ahead of many larger, better resourced nations.
Her performance was commented on by international media and she even
made headlines in the New York Times, putting her tiny nation on the world
Her Olympic Solidarity Scholarship and promised Olympic NAP (National
Activity Programme) funding helped pay some of her expenses and those of her
coach. Jane and family and friends still had to come up with the balance
required, at least three times the allocation of her Olympic Solidarity
I went to Tokyo as her manager, my third Olympics supporting a Cook
Islands canoe slalom athlete. I paid all my own flights and MIQ on return in
order to support her, something that was required at the canoeing event and as
a backstop if Covid necessitated her exit from the village or any other
scenarios where she needed support.
The trouble is, the promised NAP funding is still owed.
CISNOC say it’s still coming, but so are the next Olympics, very rapidly
(excuse my pun).
Adding to the funding issues is that while on paper Jane should receive
Olympic Solidarity funding for the next Olympics, as a tier 1 high performance
athlete, CISNOC decided not to put forward her Olympic Solidarity Scholarship
application and support canoe slalom anymore because it’s not in the Pacific
and Commonwealth Games. They chose other paddlers who don’t even paddle an
In addition they tell us that there are new rules around what sports are
being supported and new requirements that athletes need to live in the Cooks
for large periods of time. These new rules don’t seem to equate with other
sports e.g. swimming, league, rugby. We know that top athletes need to train
and compete offshore, often balancing educational needs with their sport.
The Oceania Canoeing base for canoe slalom is at the multi-million dollar white water centre in Auckland. There are other young Cook Islands paddlers coming along behind Jane with aspirations of representing their country at an Olympics one day.
If CISNOC are not going to support these dreams with funding allocated specifically for Olympic Sports, should they all just hang up their paddles?
Response – CISNOC said members who have issues with the funding allocation and other concerns are welcome to attend a workshop held a week before their AGM.