Track and Field to Introduce Prize Money at Paris Olympics

Paris Olympic 2024

World Athletics breaks tradition by introducing $50,000 prize money for gold medalists at the Paris Olympics, marking a historic shift from the Olympics’ amateur past and aiming to better recognize athletes’ contributions.

Track and field is poised to pioneer the introduction of prize money at the Olympic Games, as World Athletics announced plans on Wednesday to award $50,000 to gold medalists at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Paris Olympic 2024

This initiative marks a significant shift from the Olympic tradition of amateurism, particularly in one of the most anticipated events of the Games. World Athletics has allocated a total of $2.4 million for the gold medal winners across the 48 track and field events, with relay teams dividing the $50,000 prize among their members. Plans to extend monetary awards to silver and bronze medalists are set to commence at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Sebastian Coe, the President of World Athletics, highlighted the rationale behind this decision, stating, “to recognize that the revenue share that we receive is in large part because our athletes are the stars of the show.” The prize funds will be sourced from the portion of Olympic revenue distributed to World Athletics by the IOC.

However, this decision could stir tensions within the Olympic community as Coe revealed that the International Olympic Committee was only informed of these plans on the morning of the announcement. The IOC has yet to comment on the matter.

Reflecting on his own Olympic journey, Coe, a two-time gold medalist in the 1,500 meters during the 1980 and 1984 Games, acknowledged the significant evolution from amateur to professional athletics, emphasizing the need for the sport to adapt to these changes.

While the modern Olympics have historically upheld amateurism, with the IOC not offering prize money, it’s common for Olympic medalists to receive financial rewards from their home countries, sports federations, or sponsors.

Coe refrained from speculating on whether other sports might adopt a similar approach to prize money, stating, “I’ve always made it a point not to speak on behalf of other sports.”

The introduction of prize money by World Athletics could signal Coe’s broader aspirations within the Olympic movement, particularly in light of his potential candidacy for the IOC presidency after Thomas Bach’s term concludes in 2025.

It’s important to note that the prize money for Olympic gold medalists in track and field will be less than the amounts awarded at World Athletics’ own world championships, which offer $70,000 for individual gold medalists and prize money down to the eighth-place finishers.

Athletes eligible for the new prize money will be required to clear “the usual anti-doping procedures” at the Olympic Games, according to World Athletics.

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