World Triathlon has launched a special fund to help athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic ©World Triathlon

World Triathlon has announced a support fund of $100,000 (£70,000/€80,000) to provide financial assistance to athletes affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 23 athletes and Para athletes from 11 different countries - Azerbaijan, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine - will receive $3,000 (£2,000/€2,500) each to help them cover the expenses of travel to the qualifying events for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The remaining $31,000 (£22,000/€25,500) of the overall fund will be allocated at the end of June and distributed among the same 23 athletes, considering the number and length of journeys that the athletes made over the period.

"As an organisation, we are committed to supporting our athletes in every possible way," World Triathlon President Marisol Casado said.

"The pandemic has had a massive impact not only on their access to training and competitions, but also to travel and resources. Establishing these types of funds will be a big help to some of them on their road to Tokyo.

The emergency fund will help athletes prepare for qualifying events for Tokyo 2020, it is hoped ©Getty Images
The emergency fund will help athletes prepare for qualifying events for Tokyo 2020, it is hoped ©Getty Images

"It is our duty to provide opportunities to race and compete, but it is also our duty to work closely with National Federations and the National Olympic and Paralympic Committees to identify the specific needs of athletes and try to help and continue supporting them throughout their road to the Olympics or Paralympics.

"I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Coaches Committee for the initiative and my fellow [World Triathlon] Executive Board members for their unanimous support of this programme."

World Triathlon received 28 applications for the funds from 14 different nationalities, most of them from athletes currently competing at the maximum level to try to qualify for either the re-arranged Olympic or Paralympic Games in the Japanese capital.

To receive the funds, athletes needed to be registered and in good standing with their National Federations and have shown the ability to race at a high standard in Continental and World Triathlon level competitions.