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World Athletics to award Olympic gold medalists with a prize of $50,000

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World Athletics will pay prize money to gold medal winners at the Paris Olympics, becoming the first sports federation to do so.

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

According to a Financial Times report, the federation said it had set aside $2.4 million for gold medal winners this year and would extend prize money to silver and bronze medallists in Los Angeles in 2028.

World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe highlighted the need to share revenues with athletes.

He said the initiative was “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.

A pivotal moment for World Athletics

In a statement explaining his decision, World Athletics president Coe said it was right that his federation passed on $2.4 million of the money it gets from the IOC every four years to reward athletes.

  • “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,” he 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.”

Coe said he had not spoken to the IOC president Thomas Bach about the decision.

  • “But I am hoping they would welcome it,” he said, pointing out that the IOC also invested money back into sport. “The world has changed, and it is really important that where possible we give money to athletes.”

When asked about the significance of winning a gold medal and the potential conflict with the Olympic spirit by introducing prize money, Coe responded:

  • “I don’t believe it diminishes the value of winning a gold medal. If I perceived athletes to be solely motivated by financial incentives, my perspective might differ. However, acknowledging the evolving landscape, this initiative reflects our commitment to supporting athletes across all 48 disciplines. As our sport progresses, I aim to enhance these contributions further.”

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