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Johannesburg – While the minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has confirmed South Africa’s Olympic medallists would receive bonuses after the Paralympic Games, ordinary South Africans have raised almost R350 000 in 24 hours as an extra bonus.
On Monday, South Africans across the country celebrated Women’s Day, however, the day was almost marred following media reports that the only athletes from Team South Africa to win medals at the Tokyo Games, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Bianca Buitendag, would not be rewarded with medal bonuses.
Schoenmaker won gold and silver in the 200 metre and 100 metre breaststroke respectively and Buitendag was a silver medallist in surfing.
Following the confusion the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa confirmed on Tuesday both Olympic and Paralympic medallists would be rewarded in keeping with the well-established norms and standards from previous games.
“The final announcements on the rewards for our medallists for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games would therefore be made after the close of the Paralympic Games on September 5, 2021,” Mthethwa said.
Reacting to the news on Monday, Mike Sharman, founder of Matchkit, tweeted that in 2016 Wayde van Niekerk had earned R500 000 for winning gold and an extra R150 000 for breaking a world record and Chad Le Clos had earned R200 000 for a silver.
“By this standard, Tatjana Schoenmaker should be rewarded with at least R850 000 and Bianca Buitendag R200 000,” Sharman tweeted.
Sharman told The Star that it was ironic and distasteful to hear on Women’s Day that our women medalists were not getting a bonus.
He said following his tweet people including company EasyEquities came together to set up a crowdfunding campaign on Matchkit with the help of former Springbok Bryan Habana to raise the much-needed funds. MatchKit coincidentally also helped the South African men’s hockey team raise more than R250 000 to get to Tokyo.
Sharman said the team agreed to waive all fees on the transaction to make sure the entire donation would go directly to the athletes.
“Within a few hours we set up the crowdfunding page and chose specifically to run it on Bryan Habana because he’s been a transparent public figure and went live by 9am on Tuesday,” he said.
By Wednesday afternoon at around 3pm the fund had just passed the R320 000 mark after being live for only 24 hours. Sharman said he hoped the campaign would put pressure on the department and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to give the medallists bonuses.
“This is a nation building interest and it’s important. We have to inspire and encourage young people of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes to be interested in sports because sports is the one thing that really galvanises us as a nation,” Sharman said.
He said sports showed that anybody, regardless of their race, gender or background, could be a hero.
“We’re hoping this campaign will put pressure on the official channels to give them the money at the set precedent and this is an extra bonus from the people of South Africa,” Sharman said.