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OLYMPIC SOLIDARITYOLYMPIC REVIEW55One of the most enduring and endearingqualities of the Olympic Games is the sightof athletes from many of the world's lessdeveloped nations not only competing, but oftenwinning, against those from more well-heeledbackgrounds. The romantic notion is that totaldedication and sheer talent is responsible for thesetales of poverty to podium, but that is usually only halfthe story. What many outside the Olympic Movementare unaware of is the financial assistance given to suchathletes through the Olympic Solidarity programme.Now in its 40th year, Olympic Solidarity sprangfrom the Committee for International Olympic Aid,established in 1962 to assist newly independentcountries, particularly in Asia and Africa. At first, withno financial resources at its disposal, the Committeeoffered little more than moral support to these fledglingNational Olympic Committees (NOC). Today, OlympicSolidarity - as it became in 1971 - is responsible fora total budget of US$311 million for the 2009-2012quadrennial plan which represents the NOC share ofthe TV revenue from the Olympic Games. This moneyis distributed to the NOCs in the form of programmeselaborated by the Olympic Solidarity Commission,chaired by Mario Vázquez Raña. The budget for 2009-2012 is divided into threemain pillars: World Programmes, which focus onathletes, coaches, NOC management and thepromotion of Olympic values - this accounts for 43per cent of the total (US$134 million); ContinentalProgrammes, devised according to local priorities withmoney distributed directly to each ContinentalAssociation - this amounts to 39 per cent (US$122million); and Olympic Games Subsidies, which coverpractical expenses before and during Games andreward NOCs for their contribution to the success ofthe Games - this comes to 14 per cent (US$42million). The remaining four per cent is accounted forby the administration and communication costs ofrunning the programmes.Nearly half of the World Programmes budget isspent on projects that offer direct assistance toathletes, all with a view to qualifying for OlympicGames. These include Olympic Scholarships; TeamSupport Grants (giving financial assistance to onenational team per NOC); Continental and RegionalGames Athlete Preparation; and Youth Olympic GamesAthlete Preparation. The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) ?Left OlympicSolidaritybenificiary,Afghanistan'sRohullah Nikpai(left) won hiscountry's firstOlympic medal atthe 2008 Games in BeijingAbove Vancouver2010 was the firstfully-fledgedOlympic WinterScholarshipprogramme