Gold medal winning track and field athletes to receive $50,000 at Paris Olympics

The head of World Athletics insists an offer of cash prizes to some Olympic gold medal winners will not shatter the ethos of the games, but some Paralympians feel sidelined by the move, ITV News' Sports Editor Steve Scott reports

Gold medal winning track and field athletes at this summer's Olympic Games will each receive $50,000 (£39,400) in prize money, World Athletics has announced.

The governing body unveiled a $2.4 million (£1.89m) prize pot for the Paris Games on Wednesday morning - a move which makes it the first international sport federation to award prize money at an Olympics.

A "firm commitment" has also been made by World Athletics to extend prize money to silver and bronze medal winners at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Athletes taking part in relay races will split the cash prize across the team.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe hailed the development as a "pivotal moment", saying it underscores the body's "commitment to empowering the athletes and recognising the critical role they play in the success of any Olympic Games".

He said it was a continuation of a journey that began in 2015 "which sees all the money World Athletics receives from the International Olympic Committee [IOC] for the Olympic Games go directly back into our sport".

"We started with the Olympic dividend payments to our member federations, which saw us distribute an extra five million dollars a year on top of existing grants aimed at athletics growth projects, and we are now in a position to also fund gold medal performances for athletes in Paris, with a commitment to reward all three medallists at the LA28 Olympic Games," Lord Coe 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."

Lord Coe said the move recognises the 'critical role' athletes play in the Olympic Games. Credit: AP

The awarding of prize money will be subject to ratification, which will include medal-winning athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping checks.

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 from sponsors.

Singapore's National Olympic Council, for example, promises $1 million (£787,000) for Olympic gold, a feat only achieved once so far by a Singaporean competitor.

ITV News has contacted the IOC for comment.

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