68 athletes sign new full-time contract with Flanders Sports Agency
68 athletes will be able to count on a so-called "topsportcontract" with the Flanders Sports Agency (Sport Vlaanderen) for the coming year, Flemish minister of Sports Ben Weyts announced on Monday. These athletes will be paid a wage for one year so they can focus full-time on their sporting careers. This year, eight new names are on the list.
Flanders invests 28 million euros in top-level sports every year, four million euros more than during the previous administration. Every olympiad, another 10 million euros are invested in top-level sports infrastructure. More resources mean better performance, and this is shown on the Olympic top-level sports index. Every top-eight place at the Olympics, and in Olympic disciplines at European and World Championships, yields points for the index. The Flemish point total has tripled from 353 points in 2014 to 1,061 points in 2022.
"We are working ambitiously towards next year's Olympic Games in Paris," said minister Weyts on Monday. "Part of the funds go to top-level sports contracts. That number increases almost every year. Another two hundred top athletes are supported through other programmes. We can see that our policy is bearing fruit."
However, athletes or federations can also lose support if conditions are repeatedly not met. Just last month, for example, the Flemish Badminton Federation reported that its subsidies are being phased out. "Contracts are evaluated annually. If the conditions are not met once, the circumstances are examined through deliberation. If the conditions are not met several times, it is possible that a contract is not extended," said Tom Coeckelberghs of Topsport Vlaanderen.
#FlandersNewsService | Gymnast Nina Derwael, one of the Flemish athletes with a contract. © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND