A few national federations have taken issue with the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) for asking them to pay their annual accident and injury policy during a pandemic, when no sports is being played and many of them are struggling financially.
The aggrieved federations described the letter (a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY signed by the BOA secretary-general Erskine Simmons and dated March 1 as “unconscionable”.
They believe at a time when individuals are struggling financially and jobs are hard to come by that the BOA should be the ones covering the cost of this policy. This is the time they believe the Association should give back.
“There are parents who are losing their jobs and are unemployed now. You have individuals who are working short weeks, so they are no longer working 40 hours a week, or some persons haven’t worked the full thing for the month. And they are finding it extremely difficult to pay bills and put food on the table to support their children.
“Some people’s mortgages are extremely out of control. You have people who were glad to see the government handing out vouchers, Sandy Lane giving out vouchers. They were glad to see the government handing out care packages to help out.
“What is the Olympic Association giving back to the persons who have been serving in these federations? Not a thing. But coming to ask people to go to their sporting body requesting the athletes to pay for insurance. How can that be conscionable? The persons have no conscience,” one head of a national federation stated.
The official who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity added: “There is a social fall out, I don’t have any work. I’m finding it hard to see which bill to pay. I don’t have it. But yet you are going to ask federations to talk to their bodies, that people can pay their insurance so that whoever is in the BOA gets a cut from whatever.
“Who is the insurance agent? Because that insurance agent, I would hope, is not a BOA member. Because that insurance agent will be getting a commission. And is that the reason why we are being pressed because that agent wants to have a salary when the month comes and other people suffer?
“The second thing, there is no competition. Nobody is training, nobody is practising. So, what am I paying insurance for a year for, to do what? Why should I burden people as one of the heads of my association? This is socially wrong. I say BOA you are wrong on this one and you need to correct it. Stop pressuring people to pay for which they cannot afford to pay.”
Another individual who is part of another sporting body also questioned the letter. “Why are we being asked to pay for insurance when people are struggling during these hard times?”
When contacted, Simmons told Barbados TODAY during a telephone interview that the BOA met with the federations and explained to them the importance of maintaining the policy which is BDS$50 a year ($4.16 a month) for athletes and officials. He said that at no point in time during the meeting which took place last November, did the local federations or associations express concerns with regards to paying the policy. He added that the complaints now came as a surprise to him.
“This plan is 50 dollars a year, four dollars a month, and we know that it is a difficult time. Last year we had a difficult time and we know people were not able to pay their insurance. But what we did was still keep the plan. Sagicor General who is the provider of the plan kept the plan knowing we had to reach a certain amount of numbers (4,500) minimum to keep the plan in place,” Simmons said.
He further explained: “All we are saying is we don’t want to lose this plan. We want to keep this plan for you guys. So, all we are asking you is to pay 50 dollars a year for the coverage.
“Now we met with all of our national federations, everyone in November of last year and at no time did anyone mention to us at the time that we met they had a problem proceeding with the insurance.
“All we are saying is guys, in order to keep the plan we need you to pay the insurance. So, I am surprised to hear about this now. If I had known that, we wouldn’t have sent the letter. We would have had another meeting with the national federations.”
According to Simmons this plan provides a benefit of up to $50,000 in the event that an athlete or official is injured or dies whilst participating, training or travelling to a recognized event where coverage is provided both for domestic and international competitions.
He noted that the BOA subsidises the plan and so far medical benefits paid to injured athletes have surpassed $200,000. He indicated that many individuals who are unable to access medical insurance could be facilitated through this important element.
“The BOA started an insurance policy for athletes and officials. It is called an accident policy. So if athletes are in training or competition both locally and internationally, they will be covered. And the reason for that was, many national federations were having claims prior to this insurance that was putting a burden on the national federations,” he said.