193 athletes will benefit from the fund ©Getty Images

A total of 193 athletes from 58 Member Federations have been offered grants by World Athletics from the Athlete Welfare Fund to help support athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Athletics, along with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), created the fund due to the pandemic which caused loss of income for athletes.

Each athlete will receive $3,000 (£2,400/€2,600) from the $600,000 (£486,000/€537,000) total contributed by philanthropists. 

The IAF received 261 applications by the May 31 deadline and these were evaluated to ensure that they met the eligibility criteria outlined by the working group that was chaired by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

To be eligible, athletes had to be qualified for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through the entry standard, prove a need for justifiable welfare through significant loss of 2020 income compared to 2019 and must never have had an anti-doping violation.

Those who are in the top six in the world rankings, finished in the top six at any Gold Label road race in 2019 and those who earned more than $6,000 (£4,800/€5,300) were ineligible. 

Double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj came up with the idea for the initiative ©Getty Images
Double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj came up with the idea for the initiative ©Getty Images

Moroccan Olympic champion and 1500 metres world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj came up with the idea for the fund.

World Athletics President Coe said: "My thanks to all the working group members for their input throughout this process over the last two months, and since they all agreed to be part of this working group at the end of April when we announced the fund.

"Their contributions, particularly at the outset to shape the criteria and fund focus, has meant we'll be able to get money quickly to those athletes most in need through a robust but simple process, which is what Hicham El Guerrouj and I hoped when we first discussed the idea in late April.

"A final thanks to Hicham for the initial concept and his personal generous contribution."

El Guerrouj was part of the working group that also included Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi, World Athletics Executive Board members Sunil Sabharwal and Abby Hoffman and World Athletics Council members Adille Sumariwalla, Beatrice Ayikoru and Willie Banks.

Also on the group was IAF Executive Committee member Jose Maria Odriozola and Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines President Keith Joseph.