In the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan, which kicked off last Friday (Jul. 23), 242 Brazilian contestants are recipients of the Bolsa Atleta (athletes’ allowance). They account for 80 percent of the 302 athletes making up the Brazilian delegation in the games.
Created in 2005 by the Federal Government, the grant is among the world’s top individual sponsorship programs for athletes. In 28 of the 33 modalities in which Brazil will be competing, all sportspeople are covered by the initiative.
Jaqueline Mourão, 45, is the Brazilian representative for mountain biking, and is currently in her seventh edition of the games, if her participation in summer and winter editions are to be counted. She is also among the athletes receiving the Bolsa Atleta for the longest time in the country. The allowance has played a crucial role in her career. “It’s our foundation, the safety I have to continue dedicating myself to my sport. Without this incentive, I wouldn’t have had my seven participations in the Olympics,” she said.
A silver medalist from the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, Felipe Wu is a sport shooter specialized in 10m air pistol. He is the only Brazilian participant in the modality to compete in Tokyo. Benefited by the allowance, he praises the flexibility of the program. “As for the Bolsa Atleta, its key role and advantage, so to speak, is that it’s an amount that goes directly to athletes, unlike other programs, which we can use less flexibly,” he pointed out.
How it works
Applying for the Bolsa Família can be done online on the program’s website. After being selected, athletes sign a membership term and receive 12 payments, deposited on their bank account. The values are set according to the following categories: Basic ($71.57), Student ($71.56), National ($178.91), International ($357.82), Olympic/Paralympic ($599.60), and Podium ($967.10 to $2,900).
Deposits are made with no intermediaries and all athletes are required is to show the government and society “expressive results in the competitions,” according to Brazil’s Ministry of Citizenship. This year, the program reached 7,197 athletes, adding up to an estimated investment of $18.87 million.
Cyclist Jaqueline Mourão, who spends a significant portion of her time in Canada preparing for the winter games, says the Brazilian initiative is an encouragement not available in other countries. “I spend a lot of time in Canada. I see the situation of the athletes there. It’s nice to see a government program providing this safety several athletes in other countries do not have.”
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