The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has announced the Athletes’ Relief Support Fund to give short-term help to professional players suffering financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The FIVB says the fund is aimed primarily at those unable to afford basic necessitates at present, with volleyball-related income drying up for many as competitions around the world are unable to be held.
The initial application window has opened today and will run until June 23.
Applications can be made online and the fund is to be means-tested, with the FIVB saying a taskforce will carry out eligibility checks on applications.
Among others, the taskforce will include "the leadership of the FIVB, the FIVB Athletes’ Commission" and other FIVB staff.
To be eligible for assistance, athletes must not be under any international or national sanctions, have not committed anti-doping violations and have competed in or above a minimum threshold of events in the 2018-2019 season - unless exceptional circumstances prevented them from doing so.
Other restrictions, including on income relative to the average earnings of where an athlete resides, apply.
FIVB President Ary Graça said that players were "the heart and soul of volleyball", meaning the International Federation has an obligation to "help our athletes to concentrate on staying safe and healthy" at this time.
"We also fully understand that, for some, the necessary postponement or cancellation of FIVB events will have had a significant impact on their everyday lives," Graça said.
"Therefore, it is the FIVB’s responsibility to continue to support them in every way that we can, and that is why the Athletes’ Relief Support fund was created."
Like most sports, volleyball has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the global calendar coming to almost a complete standstill and numerous marquee events either postponed or cancelled.
The FIVB has axed this year's Volleyball Nations League over the deadly virus, while next year's Beach Volleyball World Championships will instead be moved to 2022 to avoid a clash with the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho - known usually as 'Giba' and the President of the FIVB Athletes’ Commission - stressed the importance of the financial assistance now available.
"The FIVB Athletes’ Commission serves as an essential link between the players and the FIVB," Giba said.
"This link is incredibly important, especially during these challenging times when athletes, much like many others, have been unable to work.
"We have played a key role in the creation of the Athletes’ Relief Support Fund, and I am incredibly happy that we are able to have such open and honest communication with the FIVB.
"Now, having listened to the voices of our athletes, we are able to offer them a helping hand, and we will continue to support them throughout this period."
The pandemic has also seen the FIVB Congress - originally scheduled from October 15 to 17 in Thai city Phuket - pushed back until 2021.
The event, where members of the FIVB Board are set to be elected, is now hoped to take place from January 27 to 29 next year.