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SBD Global/May 30, 2014/Olympics

Spanish Telecom Telefónica, COE Team Up On 'Podium' Project To Fund Aspiring Olympians

Spanish telecom Telefónica COO José María Álvarez-Pallete and Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) President Alejandro Blanco "announced the creation of 'Podium,' a financial support program for 80 young Spanish athletes aiming to participate" in the 2016 Rio Olympics, according to Sergio Valentín of LIBERTAD DIGITAL. Each of the athletes, who were "chosen by 22 Spanish federations based on a series of requisites," will receive a gross sum of €1,400 ($1,900) per month. To be "elected for the program, athletes must be younger than 23, and they can not be qualified Olympians or part of Spain's Olympic Sports Association (ADO)." The "scholarships" are personal and "intended for athletes competing in individual disciplines." Álvarez-Pallete explained that his company "did not know what return it would get from the investment." He said, "We do know that business will be better if we invest in the youth. We believe in them, in their talent, and so we will give them the help they need." Blanco asked that when the athletes "become Olympians, they remember the businesses and entities like Telefónica that bet on their future." Podium's slogan is "Be what you want to be; be an Olympian" (LIBERTAD DIGITAL, 5/28). In Madrid, Jesús Mínguez reported youth fencer Yulen Pereira said, "We have gone from paying to compete to them paying us." Telefónica will contribute €1.5M ($2M) "until Dec. 31 and from there, with no time limit, it will continue renewing its contribution." The telecom is also a sponsor of the ADO. Blanco: "This program will help to keep the chain of Spanish sports from being broken" (AS, 5/28).
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