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Athletics’ decision to award prize money to Olympic gold medalists criticized

THE decision to give $50,000 to track and field gold medalists At Paris Olympic Games is criticized by the Olympic sports authorities who declared that this decision “undermines the values ​​of Olympism and the unique character of the Games”.

Last week, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe broke with tradition by announcing that starting this summer, gold medalists in the athletics program’s 48 events would share $2.4 million in the sport’s share of the International Olympic Committee’s multibillion-dollar revenues.

World Athletics received approximately $39.5 million from the IOC for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“The introduction of prize money for Olympic gold medalists is a crucial commitment to empower athletes and recognize the vital role they play in the success of all Olympic Games,” Coe said in a statement at the the announcement.

Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics

Gregorio Borgia / AP

Coe, a two-time Olympic men’s 1,500m champion and former member of the British parliament, said the silver recognized that “the athletes are the stars of the show”.

The International Olympic Committee does not pay prize money, although many state governments and national Olympic bodies do.

This break with tradition, however, does not please the Association of Summer Olympic Committees, which published a press release on Friday criticizing this decision.

“For many, this decision undermines the values ​​of Olympism and the unique character of the Games,” the group, also known by the acronym ASOIF, said on Friday. “You cannot and should not put a price on an Olympic gold medal and, in many cases, Olympic medalists benefit indirectly from commercial support. This ignores the less privileged athletes at the bottom of the final ranking.”

In its statement, ASOIF said World Athletics had not informed or consulted it before last week’s announcement and expressed concern that it was made a day after the ASOIF’s General Assembly. IS THIRSTY. Coe is a member of the ASOIF Board of Directors.

“Over the past few days, ASOIF members have expressed several concerns regarding World Athletics’ announcement,” said the group, based in the Olympic city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

ASOIF suggested that “not all sports could or should replicate this approach, even if they wanted to”. Paying prize money “goes against the principle of solidarity” and could deprive governing bodies of the money which was their duty in relation to commercial promoters of sporting events.

“If the Olympic Games are considered the pinnacle of each sport, then prize money should be comparable and proportionate to the prizes awarded in the most prestigious competitions of each sport,” the group said. “It is technically and financially unfeasible.”

In its statement, ASOIF also fueled speculation about the IOC presidential race next year, when the 12-year limit imposed by Thomas Bach expires. However, his allies want the Olympic Charter changed to allow him to stay until Coe turns 68 this year and could be stopped by age limit rules.

The backlash from Olympic sports – whose leaders are among the 100 or so IOC members who elect the president – ​​was likely predicted by Coe, who raised the question of how to reward athletes in the often insular world of IOC policy.

The money pledge was popular with American athletes from various sports preparing to compete in Paris, who can earn their team’s $37,500 for gold medals, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for the bronze. The Paris Olympic Games begin on July 26.

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