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Ontario Athlete Funding
From The Toronto Star, January 10.06
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has announced a press conference for tomorrow to announce what it calls a new, instant lottery with proceeds going "to support Ontario amateur performance athletes, fund high performance-related programs and services as well as ACTIVE 2010, Ontario's sport and physical fitness strategy."
"I totally support it," said former International Olympic Committee member Paul Henderson, a long-time advocate for a sports lottery for amateur athletes. "Ontario needs it. God, do we need it."
Henderson said he doesn't know how much money will be raised, although officials said there would be 10 top prizes of $1 million.
"But the big positive is that the province is showing recognition of the need to help amateur athletes. It's an incredible jump forwards.
"Finally ... the province is looking at this problem."
Henderson said a couple of decades ago some 60 per cent of Canadian Olympic athletes hailed from Ontario.
Now, it's only about 30 per cent because there's no provincial financial support for amateur athletes.
Ontario athletes often move to Quebec or Alberta to take advantage of great training facilities or get scholarships to the U.S. rather than train at home, he said.
"It seems to be part of a progression we're starting to see from the Ontario government," said Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge. "They brought back physical education and they lifted the fees schools were charging to clubs for using their facilities and they put money into the Canadian Sport Centre."
It's not clear how long the lottery will go on or exactly how much money will be given out. Officials said more details would come at tomorrow's press conference.
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