Canadian Olympic Committee making $10 million investment into safe sport

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks during the Olympic Partnership kick off event. (Tijana Martin/CP)

MONTREAL — The Canadian Olympic Committee is investing $10 million into safe sport initiatives, citing a call to action from Canada's minister of sport Pascale St-Onge.

David Shoemaker, the Canadian Olympic Committee's CEO and secretary-general, made the announcement at the COC's annual session on Saturday.

"Athletes and sport leaders agree that the current situation in our system is untenable,'' Shoemaker said in a statement. "We all want a safe and accessible system that also produces results on the world's stage. To get there, we need to work collaboratively to find and implement solutions.''

Minister St-Onge has said there's a safe sport crisis in Canada, and in recent months gymnastics, boxing and bobsled and skeleton have written to Sport Canada, asking for independent investigations into their sports.

"We need to engage the entire sport community in our efforts to create a safer Canadian sport environment,'' Minister St-Onge said. "This is a collective problem that requires a collective solution.

"We must keep working together and building on what has already been done collectively to make sure that our athletes are able to thrive in a sport environment that is free of abuse, harassment, discrimination and mistreatment.''

The COC said it will continue to work with athlete representatives, national sport organization leaders, Sport Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada, the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner and others to identify areas for investment, which may include prevention, education, and governance.

"This is an important announcement from the COC, and an encouraging step in the right direction for the entire Canadian sport system,'' said Rosie MacLennan, two-time Olympic trampoline champion and chair of the COC athletes' commission.

"In order for athletes to perform at their best, we need a system that is safe, equitable, and that puts the mental and physical health of athletes at the centre,'' said MacLennan.

The three-day annual session brought together the COC's leadership, board of directors and national sport organization leaders and featured a series of conversations around safe sport, the COC said.

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