Going For Gold? This Summer Some Olympic Athletes Will Be Going For Green.

Photo: Stock file. Usain Bolt and other sprinters compete in a relay race.
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In the original Olympic games only (male) Greeks were allowed to enter and the only prizes were wreathes of olive leaves. During the celebration of the games, an Olympic truce was announced so that athletes and religious pilgrims could travel from their cities to the games in safety without getting caught up in wars.

Nice idea, but it probably wouldn’t catch on today.

The Olympic Games held this year in Paris, France will be a bit different though, with men and women who are professional athletes from all over the world competing for gold-plated medals and hopefully a forture in product sponsorships and advertising for the winners later on if they are good-looking and telegenic.

But this summer there is something totally new going on.

Starting in Paris this summer, track and field athletes who win gold in each of the 48 events will also walk away with a check for US$50,000. World Athletics–the ruling body for track and field– have also promised to extend the cash prizes to Olympic silver and bronze medal winners at the LA 2028 Games.

World Athletics president Lord Coe, himself a former Olympic gold medal winner called the decision a “pivotal moment”.

There will be 48 athletics events in Paris, with relay gold medallists to share their prize money among the team.

“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,” Coe said.

“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.”

World Athletics said the format and structure of prize money for the 2028 Games will be announced nearer the time.

It added that the payment of prize money will depend on athletes “undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping procedures”.

Given the Olympics’ origins as an amateur sports event, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not award prize money but distributes funding through international federations and national Olympic committees.

Some national Olympic committees offer financial rewards to their medallists, though the British Olympic Association does not.

Of course, in the modern Olympics some sportspeople who enter, such as professional tennis players, golfers, soccer players, or basketball players may already be quite wealthy from their own sporting careers, but in track and field that is rarely the case, so the potential cash winnings will be very significant for some.

The IOC is yet to comment on the World Athletics announcement.

Sources: BBC and others.
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