Olympian weight-lifter Thodoris Iakovidis shocked the public and exposed the Greek state when he burst into tears on a live interview and announced that he ends his career as he cannot continue with the multiple financial difficulties he faces.
Speaking to state broadcaster ERT, the 30-year-old athlete said he cannot compete with his rivals, who train professionally, have a livelihood and a secure job.
“I’m not crying because I did not have a good performance,” He said after competing in Tokyo Olympic Games. “I’m sorry if anyone thinks I’m running away. I’m tired of this situation. It is really saddening to be ashamed to go to the physiotherapist, because he won’t ask you for money knowing your situation. I can not stand this anymore. I want to stop, I want to calm down and I want to return to my family and friends and thank them for being my motivation all these years.”
He revealed that he receives 200 euros per month by the Greek Federation for his competing preparation.
His message to the Federation and the state was crystal clear. Iakovidis is not the only Greek Olympian athlete who complains about the lack of support by the Greek sports, state and political world as funding sports is after all a political decision.
A day earlier, the mother of rower Stefanos Ntouskos who won Olympic Gold on Friday. said that there was no help by the state neither by some local businesses that did not sponsor him. Sponsors were his parents and some money by one foundation that gives scholarships to champions and with this he could make it while he was in training camps.
The athlete who has halted his medicine studies for the Olympic training said that he wants the state to support Olympic Games winners. “It’s not easy, you devote your whole life. Think that I’m 330 days per year in Schoinias training center, I don’t see my family, my friends, from morning till the evening just training and sleep. I would like that the state supports me with a job when I finish with sports.”
In April 2021, it was the Lord of the Rings, Lefteris Petrounias, who said that he and his co-athletes have been not paid for seven months. Petrounias made the statement the day he won another Gold for Greece at the European Championship in Switzerland.
“I can keep on going due to my sponsors, my co-athletes are in the same situation without sponsors, though,” Petrounias stressed.
Iakovidis’ parents told media that Thodoris some times has to stop his training in order to work and earn money to finance it.
Iakovidis statement shocked ordinary Greeks first of all. They launched a campaign on Twitter and Instagram to increase his followers and … attrack sponsors. Overnight his followers rose form 3,000 to 120,000.
Some sponsors reportedly got in contact with him saying they want to meet him when he returns from Tokyo.
The Deputy Sports Minister invited him for a “talk to figure out solutions,”
Panathinaikos FC started a donations campaign.
Speaking to Open TV on Sunday, Iakovidis said thanking his new supporters:
“The problem is not to fix things with Thodoris. There are so many other Theodoris, so many athletes who need support.”
Stressing that he will continue if the conditions change, he added “But I do not think it’s moral to continue with sponsors for another three years. while the others have to go through the same difficulties as now. I want the state mechanism to help all the athletes, to help them with real actions.”
Former weight-lifting star and Olympian Gold winner Pyrros Dimas told Skai TV that funding has been sharply cut to the Wieghlifting Federation since 2008.
PS No money for our athletes for some 20 million euros went to media to “cheer” the government. But when Ntouskos won the Gold all politicians and sports officials rushed to congratulate him and use the chance that the public remembers them. Next they will rush to airport for a photo opportunity. Of course. Hypocrisy and shame go hand in hand.