Track and field becomes first sport to pay prize money at Olympics | Olympics News

Track and field becomes first sport to pay prize money at Olympics | Olympics News

In an Olympic first, gold medalists at the Paris 2024 Games will receive pay for play.

Track and field is to become the first sport to introduce prize money at the Olympics with World Athletics saying it will pay $50,000 to gold medalists in Paris.

The move, announced on Wednesday, is a symbolic break with the amateur past of the Olympics in some of the games’ most-watched events.

The governing body of athletics said it is setting aside $2.4m to pay the gold medalists across the 48 men’s, women’s and mixed events on the track and field programme for this year’s Paris Olympics. Relay teams will split the $50,000 among their members. Payments for silver and bronze medalists are planned to start from the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe told reporters that the move is meant “to recognize that the revenue share that we receive is in large part because our athletes are the stars of the show”.

The prize money will come out of the share of Olympic revenue that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) distributes to World Athletics.

However, the move could upset the balance of power in the Olympic movement ahead of the Paris Games. Coe said World Athletics gave the IOC “a heads-up” of its intentions only on Wednesday morning, shortly before it published its announcement.

In response, the IOC said it was up to each sport’s governing body to decide how to spend its share of Olympic revenue.

“The IOC redistributes 90% of all its income, in particular to the National Olympic Committees [NOCs] and International Federations [IFs],” the IOC said in a statement. “This means that, every day, the equivalent of $4.2 million goes to help athletes and sports organizations at all levels around the world. It is up to each IF and NOC to determine how to best serve their athletes and the global development of their sport.”

The modern Olympics originated as an amateur sports event, and the IOC does not award prize money. However, many medalists receive payments from their countries’ governments, national sports bodies or sponsors.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee awarded $37,500 to gold medalists at the last Summer Games in Tokyo in 2021. Singapore’s National Olympic Council promises $1m for Olympic gold, a feat achieved only once so far by a Singaporean competitor.

In sports like tennis and golf, the Olympic tournament is the only time in a season that many professional players compete for free with medals on offer but no prize money. Coe did not want to speculate on whether other events could follow track and field’s lead.

“I’ve always made it a point not to speak on behalf of other sports,” Coe said.

There’s no sign yet of any other Olympic sport offering prize money.

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