Earlier today, Associação Nacional de Desporto para Deficientes (ANDE) clarified the situation surrounding through Brazil’s Ministério do Esporte’s (Esporte) Programa Bolsa Atleta, where guide athletes, known as Calheiros, had to give back scholarships they had received.
ANDE had lobbied for a change in the recognition status and name of Calheiros from the Esporte. ANDE had been trying to get this change for several years, and had also hoped that a change in name from Calheiros to Atletas Guias might better highlight the importance of Calheiros as athletes. This change is important in terms of making guide athletes eligible for Programa Bolsa Atleta scholarships. Esporte declined to make this change. When ANDE submitted the names of competitors under their purview to Esporte, ANDE included guide athletes who were subsequently given Programa Bolsa Atleta scholarships in June of this year despite their lack of eligibility. ANDE approached guides and asked them to give the scholarships back, because they were not eligible and keeping the money might lead to personal financial and legal liability at a later date. ANDE restated their continued commitment to getting Esporte recognition of guides.
A number of Brazilian athletes qualify for this year’s Programa Bolsa Atleta, including 92 wheelchair basketball players, 82 sitting volleyball players, 59 boccia players, 47 judoka, 44 7-a-side football players, 39 goalball players, 29 wheelchair rugby players, 18 5-a-side football players, and 12 wheelchair tennis players.