LONDON: Athletics has become the first sport to offer prize money to Olympic champions, announcing on Wednesday that the 48 gold medallists in Paris this year will earn $50,000 each to end a 128-year tradition.

Although the concept of purely amateur competition has long since disappeared from the modern Olympics with athletes often receiving payments from sponsors and professionals taking part for years, the World Athletics (WA) decision is a major shift.

WA president Sebastian Coe said there had been no discussion with the International Olympic Committee, only that his organisation had given the IOC a heads-up shortly before announcing the $2.4 million prize pot.

“While it is impossible to put a marketable value on winning an Olympic medal, or on the commitment and focus it takes to even represent your country at an Olympic Games, it is important we make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is,” Coe told reporters.

“I don’t believe this is remotely at variance with the concept that the IOC often talks about, which is recognising the efforts that our competitors make for the overall success of the Games.”

Norway’s Olympic 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm welcomed the news.

“I think it’s good so I want to salute them for it,” he told Reuters. “It doesn’t change my motivation to win because for the Olympics I’m not in it for the money. The gold medal is worth a lot more to me personally.”

The IOC said it was up to each International Federation (IF) and National Olympic Committee (NOC) to determine how to best serve their athletes and the development of their sports.

“The IOC redistributes 90% of all its income, in particular to the NOCs and IFs. This means that, every day, the equivalent of $4.2 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world,” the ruling body said.

A total of $540 million was allocated to the 28 sports at the Tokyo Games with World Athletics receiving the most at $40 million.

The amateur ethos of the Olympics, severely undermined for decades by the success of state-sponsored competitors from the former Eastern Bloc, was swept away when the IOC agreed to allow professional athletes to compete in tennis, soccer and ice hockey at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Athletics is the Olympics biggest sport by number of participants and TV audiences but the vast majority of athletes, including many medallists, face a constant struggle for funding.

Olympic silver and bronze medallists in athletics will also receive prize money, but only from the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...
IMF’s unease
Updated 24 May, 2024

IMF’s unease

It is clear that the next phase of economic stabilisation will be very tough for most of the population.
Belated recognition
24 May, 2024

Belated recognition

WITH Wednesday’s announcement by three European states that they intend to recognise Palestine as a state later...
App for GBV survivors
24 May, 2024

App for GBV survivors

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The ...