Historically, the Olympics were primarily a part of a religious festival in honour of the father of the Greek gods and goddesses, Zeus! Held in Olympia, the athletes of the Olympics, were all male citizens of the city-states from every corner of the Greek world! This event began in the year 776 BC, when Koroibos, a cook from the nearby city of Elis, won the station race, a foot race spanning 600 feet long. Literary traditions have stated that this was the only athletic event of the games for the first 13 Olympic festivals. The Olympics, have come a long way, since!
Now, with a total of 206 countries competing across 400 events and 35 different sports in the latest edition of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there has been a lot of changes and positive modifications executed — from allowing two flag bearers (a female athlete and a male athlete) to athletes displaying importance to their mental health such as Simone Biles. The games have also managed to bring a country together just to support their respective national athletes.
Take Malaysia for example; despite our varying political ideologies and religious beliefs, we’d still come together to support our local athletes even in the games that we’re unfamiliar with such as badminton, gymnastics and archery. With every country sending off their best athletes and aiming for the medals especially the prized gold medal, it is no doubt that the winners would be given much honour back home.
Therefore, here’s a list of countries and the rewards that are given to their athletes for winning the medals in the Olympics, to fuel your curiosity!
Let’s start with our country first! Our National Sports Council has allocated a Skim Hadiah Kemenangan Sukan where cash gifts of different amounts are given out to the athletes. This depends on their medal placement too in different sports events.
- Bronze medal winners – RM100,000
- Silver medal winners – RM300,000
- Gold medal winners – RM1,000,000
That’s not all! Another initiative done by the government is the Skim Imbuhan Tetap Olimpik, where athletes would be paid a lifetime monthly salary. This amounts to, RM5,000 for gold, RM3,000 for silver and RM2,000 for bronze. Besides this, there are also sponsorship opportunities from big brands for the winners. The winners would also receive the highly coveted Datukship title among many other state honours.
Our friendly neighbour has given out generous rewards too. In 2018, swimmer, Joseph Schooling received $737,000 due to his epic gold medal win. It should be noted that this was Singapore’s first-ever gold medal in the Olympics. For silver medal and bronze medal winners, the athletes would win, $369,000 and $184,000 respectively.
However, here’s the catch. 20% of the cash prize money must go back to the National Sports Association for training and development.
Apart from providing bonuses which are apparently, lesser than that of the countries aforementioned, South Korean medal winners could be exempt from military services. That seems like a fair trade for many South Korean athletes out there. Besides that, the Nongshim Group once gave gold medallists a lifetime supply of instant noodles!
At the Rio Olympics in 2016, German medallists were paid 20,000 euros each. However, they seem to have another eccentric way to display their gratitude towards their athletes. They would be given their national pride — beer! As long as they win the medal, the athletes would enjoy 50 litres of beer every month for a whole year.
If you hail from the British Isles, getting monetary awards is definitely not possible. Team Great Britain has won more than 50 medals in Rio but neither the government nor the British Olympic Association gave the athletes any reward money due to the stance of the association which believes that the athletes are motivated by their desire to represent their country and their love for the sport. However, these athletes are still their nation’s pride. The winning Olympians can get stamp sets with their own heads and the postbox of the champion’s hometown would be painted in gold.
Good food is indeed a priority in Belarus. The medal winners would be given free sausages for life. The gold medallists would receive $150,000 for their exceptional performances.
This is definitely a nail-biting moment for the athletes. In a do or die situation, the winning athletes would get a bonus, a car or even a house. However, here’s the twist! If they lose the event, under any circumstance, they reportedly would have to face heavy labour in coal mines. This is extremely terrifying.
United States of America
The land of the Star-Spangled Banner pays their winning athletes too — but in a much smaller amount. Gold medallists would receive $37,500, silver medallists would receive $22,500 and bronze medallists would receive $15,000 for their hard-earned achievement. American medallists would have to pay state and federal taxes on the prize money awarded and the winners of the gold and silver medalists would be taxed on the value of the medals themselves! However, the value of a bronze medal is too negligible to be taxed.
Nevertheless, winning and losing is definitely part of any sporting event. The athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have achieved so much by just participating in the games as it’s definitely difficult to qualify for the Olympics. Regardless of the rewards given to our national athletes, we should feel proud of them for representing our country. Let’s cheer them on!