January 24, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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Discussion for 100 years!  We are organizing the World Championship and we don't have the money for the tournament

Discussion for 100 years! We are organizing the World Championship and we don’t have the money for the tournament

A meandering canal in the Divoká voda district of unovo. Source: Pavol Zakar

Onovo – The organizers of the World White Water Rafting Championships were supposed to finish preparations three weeks before the start of the Onoff event, but they still have to solve the funding issues privately. The outages, which can largely be caused by the coronavirus pandemic, are so serious that the tournament could be called off.

Organizing the World Championship is a challenge in itself, when the Slovaks applied for the Water Solomon five years ago, they wanted to follow the successful tournaments in 2011. “When we strive to organize such a major global event, we want to offer something special to our sport with a high added value that the participants will appreciate. Slovakia is seen as a rowing power and we wanted to show that in Slovakia we can not only teach legendary athletes, but also prepare the biggest sports holiday On a level that transcends previous events and sets new standards. We have also entered into this project with that,” Head of the Slovak Rowing Department’s Wild Water Division Richard Galovich stressed.

However, seeing the World Championships in Sonoff (September 15-26, September 22-26) has been a coronavirus pandemic. The crisis that constitutes a historical epoch has affected almost every sphere of life, and last but not least, it has affected the economic aspect. When the Slovak Republic applied for the right to host the tournament, it could count on public support. But after five years, everything has changed. “Although the support is not precisely defined, I think it is clear to everyone what the World Cup means and what support means for such an event. As soon as we began the preparatory work, or rather its last stage, which dates back to January of this year, we began to negotiate with the state authorities on support. However, with the changing situation and priorities, all operations took a relatively long time to reach a state that the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport made clear to us that they do not have sufficient resources in the current situation and asked for the lowest possible budget to organize the event.” Galovich explained.

Richard Galovitch, Head of the Wild Water Division of the Slovak Whitewater Rowing Association. Source: TASR / Martin Baumann

The organizers complied with the requirements. The added value had to be reduced so that hundreds of athletes could come and close the Olympic season with dignity. “We have deleted the entire program of sponsorship of athletes, foreign delegations and various VIP activities, which we enshrined in the organizational agreement with the FIA, but we said that there is really no time for development activities. We also deleted the opening ceremony and most of the show activities. In fact, we have deleted all the programs which were aimed at strengthening the diplomatic position of Slovakia in the structures of international sport. ”

At the end of the austerity measures, we were able to “cut” the budget to 600,000 euros, an amount that other countries could hardly prepare for such a big event. “We cut everything to the bone, we budgeted 600,000 euros, which is two to 2.5 times less than the cost of tournaments of this type anywhere else outside Slovakia. These are costs that cannot be covered, as they ensure the proper operation of the event, or Timekeeping, referees, or international television signal production for Eurosport and other broadcasters from Europe, Asia and America,” Galovich said. But even savings did not bring a solution. “The ministry informed us that it can save a maximum of 150 thousand euros within the possibilities of its regular budget, which causes us great difficulties,” said Galovich, according to which the financial possibilities of Slovak rowers are practically exhausted.

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The most successful representative of Slovakia in the water slalom is Michal Martikan. Source: TASR / Martin Baumann

The epidemic, during which they tried to help athletes, greatly contributed to this, but the support of the state bypassed them. “From the possibilities of our budget, we have tried to support mainly clubs and youth in order to maintain their activities for the past year and a half. However, we have never received any special support for this, for example, just as the state compensated for the interruption of private football or hockey clubs. We, as a sports association, did not include in any support scheme that would make it possible to support clubs, children and youth and their competitions, despite the fact that we requested it. In addition, we financed the entire preparation of our representatives for the Olympic Games. ”

Despite all the difficulties, the organizers managed to get at least part of the necessary funding from their own resources. “We have funds ready, and this is our response. From our close advertising partners in the amount of 200 thousand euros. This means that with the support provided by the ministry, we are at the level of about 350 thousand euros, so we only need 250 thousand euros. Of course, this is a lot of money , but I am talking about the support of the most successful Slovak sport, which we need once every ten years, ”emphasized Galovic, recalling that organizing the World Championships in Slovakia is not an easy task. : “With all due respect, such an event can be organized in Slovakia. Either there is a lack of proper infrastructure or we are not strong enough in the sport for the International Federation to give us such a championship.”

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Slovak surfers on 3xC1 patrols in the Martikán lineup, Slafkovský, Beňuš. Source: TASR / Michal Svitok

Galovich also asked for help from other ministries that have sports support in their portfolio, namely Defense and Interior. On a daily basis he has conversations with the Minister of State for Sports, Ivan Hussar, or the Government Commissioner for Sports, Carol Koyer. In addition, negotiations are underway with private companies. “We are in a specific situation with the Ministry of the Environment. We are in the area which is owned by the State Foundation Vodohospodárska výstavba through the Ministry. I understand that the Ministry of Environment does not have the task of financing sports, but in recent months we have invested two million euros in the reconstruction of the complex, that is, state property. In an important way. Extremely, we reconstructed the area in Bratislava-Unov and in such a way that we made available not only the sports ground we are using, but also the state property, which was in a desolate state and the owner would have to rebuild or close it anyway. That’s why we took the liberty of dealing with construction management Water as a long-term strategic partner and operator of the Gabčíkovo waterworks, which also includes the “Unov Waterworks Complex”, to help us organize the World Championships as much as possible. We are very grateful that the Minister of Environment, Jan Bodaj, organized a joint meeting on this issue and thus became our close ally “.

Matte Pechos on the track in Class C1. Source: TASR – Pavel Neubauer

The World Championships isn’t just about prestige and athletic performance, Galovich noted the social significance of a similar event. Especially now. “We had to sacrifice a lot during the last period. Our children and youth, who are a priority in rowing in Slovakia, did not have a normal approach to sport. We had to cancel many events. There was a significant reduction in sports activities, which had a huge impact on talent education. The new Children’s motivation to exercise, train and move has decreased drastically and I see this as a big problem. That’s why we saw the World Cup as a new beginning, a new era. We wanted to bring new energy to the sport, not just to rowing, but to the whole sport in Slovakia We believe that rowing He has a special place in our country, he is the most successful Olympic sport in the country and I think that thanks to his success he has always formed opinion. All our athletes are very popular and have always been a positive role model for the younger generation, with whom no scandals have ever been associated.

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Slalom water skier Eliška Mintálová – K1 on the track in unov. Source: TASR – Pavel Neubauer

However, time is running out, according to Galovich, the critical limit has already been crossed. However, no one on the organizing committee admits failure, and everyone is determined to do everything possible to ensure that about 500 athletes from 50 countries are not disappointed. “Unfortunately, if we want to cancel it properly, we will have to cancel it much earlier, because on Wednesday, a ten-day international training camp in Sonoff ended with the participation of 200 contestants from abroad, who came to train the new channel. .But we have hope, as the Ministry of Education And education, and Mr. Hisar in particular, are in daily contact with us, and we see that he is not indifferent to other high-ranking state officials either. We believe there will be a way to resolve this. Either way, the day will come, not weeks, but only the days when we will have to To determine whether we are able to organize the world championship or not so as not to cause financial losses to the Slovak canoeers and the loss of the reputation of Slovakia. .