Olympic sports federations slam decision to award prize money to athletics medallists

An organisation of Olympic sports federations on Friday said the decision by World Athletics to award prize money to gold medallists in its events “undermines the values of Olympism”.

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The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) released a statement which made clear how unhappy it was at the announcement by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe that track and field gold medallists at the Paris Games will receive $50,000 (47,000 euros).

World Athletics’ move, announced last week, was a first for a federation at an Olympics. It said it would extend prize money to all medallists in Los Angeles in four years’ time.

ASOIF, which has 30 full members and two associate members, said: “This move undermines the values of Olympism and the uniqueness of the Games. One cannot and should not put a price on an Olympic gold medal.

“This disregards the less privileged athletes lower down the final standings.”

It said other Olympic sports cannot afford to offer prize money.

“Not all sports could or should replicate this move, even if they wanted to,” said ASOIF.

The organisation added that it accepted schemes by National Olympic Committees and governments to “reward athletes for outstanding performances…for purposes of national pride and…consistently across all the sports at the Olympic Games.”

It also said that there had been a consensus that, where sports had a surplus, Olympic revenue should “be invested as a priority into development and integrity.”

The organisation was also unhappy that Coe had announced the move without warning to its fellow federations, although it had informed the International Olympic Committee on the day of the announcement.

“ASOIF was neither informed nor consulted in advance of the announcement, which was made one day after the ASOIF General Assembly,” it said, adding “it is important and fair to discuss the matter at stake with the other federations in advance”.

World Athletics responded in a statement to AFP that its decision to award prize money was “about underscoring our unwavering commitment to empowering the athletes and recognising the critical role they play in the success of any Olympic Games”.

It said it agreed it was impossible to put a “marketable value” on winning an Olympic medal.

“But we think it is important to 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 added.

The total World Athletics prize fund of $2.4 million will come from the International Olympic Committee’s revenue share allocation that the federation receives every four years.

(AFP)


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