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Sascoc lands Planet Fitness in a R15m sponsorship deal

24 March 2021 - 14:29 By david isaacson
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Barry Hendricks has hailed the deal.
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Barry Hendricks has hailed the deal.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Team SA’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes — along with some of the sport’s fat cats — are set to benefit from a four-year‚ R15m sponsorship with Planet Fitness.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced the deal‚ which also involves Fit SA to cater for athletes not living in main centres‚ in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

This is Sascoc’s second contract landed in less than a month‚ after signing Mr Price Sport as the kit sponsor‚ and will run until after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Athletes in contention for the Tokyo Games later this year will be entitled to gym memberships‚ along with all national federation presidents and Sascoc board and staff members.

At this stage it’s too early to tell which of SA’s medal contenders will take advantage of the deal — many already have access to high performance centres — but it could come in handy for SA’s Durban-based swimmers‚ including Chad Le Clos.

With the municipal Kings Park pool in a state of disrepair‚ Planet Fitness has an Olympic-sized pool in Westville.

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said they had yet to find out which athletes would take up the offer‚ but pointed out that the sponsorship would offer a direct cash savings for those currently paying their own gym fees.

Paralympic athletes in particular had struggled since cash-strapped Sascoc stopped Operation Excellence payments at the end of 2019.

Acting CEO Ravi Govender said athletes were unable to attend the press conference because the time clashed with training schedules.

Planet Fitness managing director Mannee de Wet believed the deal had something to offer elite athletes at the top of the food chain.

“We have have so many facilities and services while some high performance centres are very niche. It could involve cross-training to supplement what they’re already doing.”

The agreement will also see discounts offered to sports people on various rungs below Team SA.

Fit SA will find gyms for athletes in more out-of-the-way places where Planet Fitness doesn’t have a footprint.

Spokesman Grant Austin said Fit SA was galvanising their members to‚ among other things‚ ensure minimum standards.

He added that research conducted in the Eastern Cape had shown that Covid-19 infection rates in gyms were at 1%‚ half that in shopping centres and far below the super-spreader events that accounted for more than 40% of cases.

Planet Fitness head of marketing Gillian Elson said no infections had been linked to their 47 gyms countrywide since the post-lockdown reopening in August last year.

Hendricks is hopeful of a couple more sponsorships‚ but there is still no word yet on the key contributions from Lotto and government that could determine whether athletes will have to pay towards the trip to Japan.