COC says Canadian government investment in AAP is insufficient. GETTY IMAGES

The Canadian federal government has announced plans to increase funding for the Athlete Assistance Programme. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) believes additional support is still needed to fully meet the needs of athletes striving for success.

Canadian athletes asked for a CA$6.3 million (4.3 million euros) increase last month with the federal government agreeing to allocate $7m (4.8m euros) extra funding to the Athlete Assistance Programme (AAP) for the Paris 2024 Olympics and $35m (23.9m euros) over the next five years.  It's the first increase to the AAP, also known as "carding money", since 2017.

The government has also pledged $16m (10.9m euros) over two years to enhance the Sport Support Programme and $10.6m (7.2m euros) to the Future of Sport in Canada Commission. In addition, $15 million (10.2m euros) has been set aside to strengthen community sport programming, underscoring the commitment to fostering a thriving sport environment across the country.

While the COC expressed its gratitude for the announced investments, it also stressed that they did not meet its joint request with the Canadian Paralympic Committee for an additional $104m (71m euros) in funding which it said would address "the needs of National Sport Organisations (NSOs) to advance their respective sports and to deliver a sport system that is safe, inclusive, and accessible for all Canadians".

"The Canadian Olympic Committee will continue to engage with the federal government and advocate for these necessary investments to ensure that Canadians can rely on an adequately resourced sport system," the COC concluded. 

A representative for Canadian Minister of Sport Carla Qualtrough confirmed on Tuesday that there would be no official response from her . More than 1,900 athletes in 90 sports are eligible for the AAP, which provides financial assistance, including help with tuition fees and childcare.

The Canadian Press reported in late March that Melissa Lotholz stayed in a church for free while competing in Lake Placid, New York.

At the time, fellow bobsledder Cynthia Appiah said, "A lot of people I've had this conversation with about funding seem to have this idea that Canadian Olympians are living in the lap of luxury. There's this illusion that we get high dollar sponsorships."

The COC insisted that carding money "is essential for athletes and will make a significant difference in their ability to train and live while making Canada proud during the upcoming Paris 2024 Games and beyond".

In his statement last month, David Shoemaker, the CEO and Secretary General of the COC, expressed concern about the precarious state of Canada's sports systems, suggesting they were teetering on the "brink of a crisis."

"Without an immediate infusion of funding, athletes will suffer over the next 12 to 18 months as we prepare to respond to the findings. This funding is necessary for the continued development of safe and inclusive sport in Canada that benefits all Canadians," said Shoemaker.