Athletes will be financially assisted by World Athletics through its welfare fund ©Getty Images

World Athletics has opened registration to its COVID-19 relief fund, to help athletes financially who are struggling due to the suspension of activity during the pandemic.

In association with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), World Athletics announced a $500,000 (£411,000/€462,000) welfare fund at the end of April, allowing athletes to apply for one-off grants.

It will help to support professional athletes for their loss of income through international competition and sponsors.

Registration for the fund will be open to applicants until May 31 with a working group overseeing the distribution of funds, with eligibility criteria and the application process now being finalised.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who chairs the working group has said defining the eligibility criteria has been difficult to ensure those most at need can receive help.

Coe said: "The IAF has allocated a substantial sum to the fund, and we hope to raise more through private donations from friends of our sport, but it has become apparent that the resources must be focused on athletes who are likely to be competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and are now struggling to pay for basic necessities due to loss of income during the pandemic.

"We know this is a stressful situation for many athletes and we are trying to provide meaningful assistance to as many as possible as quickly as possible so they can continue to train for the competition season we have now scheduled for August to October, and for next year’s Olympics.’"

All applicants must meet the criteria of having already met the entry standard for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, never receiving an anti-doping rule violation and being able to show a significant loss of income compared to last year.

To ensure those who need it the most can secure funds, the top six in each event in the World Athletics world rankings cannot apply, as well as those who finished in the top six of any Gold Label road race in 2019 and those who earned more than $6,000 (£4,950/€5,540) in prize money from the Diamond League in 2019.