World Athletics to award $50,000 prize money to gold medal winners at Paris Olympics

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe describes the decision ‘as a pivotal moment’

World Athletics will become the first international federation to award prize money at an Olympics at the Paris Games later this year.

Starting at this summer’s Olympics in Paris, a total prize pot of $2.4 million (€2.2 million) has been ring fenced from the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s revenue share allocation, which is received by World Athletics every four years.

This will be used to reward athletes who win a gold medal in each of the 48 athletics events in Paris with $50,000 – along with the priceless Olympic gold medal.

The initiative by World Athletics also includes a commitment to extend the prize money at a tiered level, to Olympic silver and bronze medal winners at the LA 2028 Olympic Games, financially rewarding athletes for achieving the pinnacle of sporting success for the first time.


World Athletics president Sebastian Coe described the decision “as a pivotal moment” in recognising the success of athletes on the biggest sporting stage of all.

“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,” said Coe.

“This is the continuation of a journey we started back in 2015, which sees all the money World Athletics receives from the International Olympic Committee 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 $5m 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,” 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.”

The payment of prize money will depend upon the World Athletics ratification process, including athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.

Each individual Olympic champion will receive $50,000. Relay teams will receive the same amount, to be shared among the team. The format and structure of the LA28 Olympic bonuses will be announced nearer the time.

It remains to be seen if or when other sports follow this lead in advance of Paris. Several other international federations, including swimming and boxing, do award prize money at their world championships, although in boxing’s case, the Olympic tournament is being organised by the IOC, given the World Boxing Association has had its Olympic recognition suspended.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics