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Sport Canada is the name of Canada's federal government program to help support athletes.
The purpose of Sport Canada is to develop and encourage sport, health, and exercise programs for all Canadians.
However, Sport Canada's main emphasis is on high-performance athletes training for major international athletic competitions, such as the Olympic Games.
Sport Canada was created in the 1970s as a response to the perceived need to help athletes train and compete in international sport.
Before the 1970s, athletes wishing to train and compete in sport had to support themselves financially.
Athletes were either independently wealthy, or were supported by family or friends.
Unfortunately, many high-caliber athletes without such financial support simply could not afford to train and compete in international competition.
Also, before the early 1970s almost all international sports events were amateur. Amateur rules meant those receiving funds from government programs or corporations were breaking the rules of sport.
Athletes receiving money were disqualified from competition.
As a result, the amateur rules generally limited training and competition to those athletes who came from wealthier families.
Less fortunate athletes, many of whom likely would have performed well for Canada in international competitions, simply could not afford to do so.
Sport Canada has been a role model for many government-run sport programs around the world. With its central administrative offices in Canada's capital of Ottawa, Sport Canada efficiently provides administrative, coaching, and financial help for athletes across the country.
Athletes can concentrate their efforts full-time on training and competition.
As a result, Canada's share of the medal totals in the Olympic Games has risen since the 1970s.
Recently, Sport Canada's programs have been criticized by some who feel that the program does not provide enough money for athletes.
While it does provide financial assistance to athletes, the amount paid is well below Canada's minimum wage. Critics point out that athletes work full-time and perform an important function for the Canadian government and people.
As a result of this criticism, the Canadian government has provided more money for athletes.
However, the amount is still below the minimum wage level.
As a result, the amount paid to athletes is likely to rise in the future.
As long as it effectively manages problems such as funding, Sport Canada will continue to provide the Canadian public with international-caliber athletes who compete with the very best in the world.