Paris Olympics: $50,000 for a gold – athletics becomes first sport to offer prize money to Olympians

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Athletics will become the first sport to introduce prize money at the Olympics this summer.

World Athletics, the international athletics federation, says it will pay Olympic gold medal winners $50,000 (around £39,400) at the Paris games.

The athletics governing body said it is setting aside $2.4m (£1.89m) to pay the gold medallists across 48 events at Paris’ track and field programme.

Athletics - World Athletics Championship - Women's 800m Heptathlon - National Athletics Centre, Budapest, Hungary - August 20, 2023 Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson celebrates after winning gold in the Heptathlon REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Image:The UK’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the world heptathlon champion, could be in line for the payment. Pic: Reuters

Relay teams will split the $50,000 between their members.

Payments for silver and bronze medallists are planned to begin at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “The introduction of prize money for Olympic gold medallists is a pivotal moment for World Athletics and the sport of athletics as a whole, underscoring our commitment to empowering the athletes and recognising the critical role they play in the success of any Olympic Games.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe at the 2023 World Athletics Championships. Pic: Reuters
Image:World Athletics president Sebastian Coe at the 2023 World Athletics Championships. Pic: Reuters

“This is the continuation of a journey we started back in 2015, which sees all the money World Athletics receives from the International Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games go directly back into our sport.”

He added: “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, I think it is important we start somewhere and make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes at the Olympic Games are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is.”

The payment of prize money will depend upon the World Athletics ratification process, including athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.

The modern Olympics originated as an amateur sports event and the International Olympic Committee does not award prize money, though many medallists receive payments from their countries’ governments, national sports bodies or from sponsors.

As well as the various men’s and women’s running races – both with and without hurdles – gold medallists in events including long jump, high jump, triple jump, hammer throw, javelin throw, discus throw, pole vault and shot put will receive the prize money.

Race walking, the women’s heptathlon and men’s decathlon Olympic winners will also receive $50,000.

The International Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to Sky News’ request for comment.