From Gold to Green: Olympic Medal Payouts Compared By Nation

TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES

  • Thursday, July 22 – Sunday, August 8, 2021
  • Swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
  • Tokyo, Japan

Last year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, SwimSwam examined medal bonuses paid by Olympic Committees of various nations worldwide to be given to those Summer Games athletes who finish in podium position. With the Olympics around the corner (again), several federations have made changes in the last 12 months that it deserves a refresher.

For the host country, a report last week from the Kyodo News in Japan noted that bonuses of ¥5,000,000 (~$45,200), ¥2,000,000 (~$18,100), and ¥1,000,000 (~$9,045) will be paid to Japanese gold, silver and bronze medalists, respectively, at the Olympic Games.  Notably, an additional prize has been announced for the Japanese baseball team, where each player will receive an additional ¥5,000,000 (~$45,200) should the host team take home gold.

We should also mention from the top that these medal payments aren’t the only way Olympic athletes are funded by their respective federations. For example, the United Kingdom does not offer specific medal bonuses but rather devoted approximately £345 million of government and lottery funds to Olympic and Paralympic sports for the Tokyo cycle, including roughly £61 million for “Athlete Performance Awards” (which are not based entirely on Olympic medals). The United States offers tiered monthly stipends offered to the United States national team, depending on pro, NCAA or high school status.

A not-exhaustive table of bonuses is below. Some additional notes:

  • While the United States awards don’t seem like much, it actually was even lower in Rio; the USOC announced significant pay bumps in December of 2016, including a jump from $25,000 to $37,500 for gold medals
  • Italy elevated its prize money by more than 30% this past year, now paying a whopping €180,000 (~$212,400 USD) for a gold medal. That total is by far the largest we could find of countries with at least 15 swimming medals to their name
  • In addition to a cash bonus, for the past several Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted luxury cars to medal winners
  • Medal rewards discussions were more prevalent than usual throughout the general public in 2016, after Joe Schooling took home a S$1,000,000 bonus (~$744,000 USD) from Singapore for his victory in the 100 butterfly over a field that included Michael Phelps. Singapore has set the standard for the largest official medal reward provided that we could find

Besides money, there are also other potential benefits – like escaping mandatory military service – for Olympic medalists in some nations. Some nations, like the U.S., also award bonus money to clubs based on athletes’ results.

So it’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, but this gives a basic comparison among what different nations are spenidng for medals.

Olympic Medal Rewards by Nation, per the latest available information. All figures converted to USD:

COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE SOURCE (AS OF)
Singapore 744,000 USD 372,000 USD 186,000 USD Source (2021)
Indonesia 746,000 USD 378,000 USD 188,000 USD Source (2019)
Hong Kong 644,000 USD 322,000 USD 161,000 USD Source (2020)
Thailand 309,300 USD unknown unknown Source (2016)
Kazakhstan 250,000 USD 150,000 USD 75,000 USD Source (2018)
Azerbaijan 248,000 USD 124,000 USD 62,000 USD Source (2019)
Malaysia 241,000 USD* 72,200 USD* 24,100 USD* Source (2021)
Italy 212,400 USD 106,200 USD 70,800 USD Source (2021)
Hungary 167,500 USD 125,600 USD 95,500 USD Source (2020)
France 65,000 USD 25,000 USD 15,000 USD Source (2021)
Russia 61,000 USD 38,000 USD 26,000 USD Source (2018)
Brazil 47,500 USD 28,500 USD 19,000 USD Source (2021)
Japan 45,200 USD 18,100 USD 9,045 USD Source (2021)
USA 37,500 USD 22,500 USD 15,000 USD Source (2016)
South Africa 37,000 USD 19,000 USD 7,000 USD Source (2019)
Netherlands 35,400 USD 26,600 USD 17,700 USD Source (2016)
Germany 22,000 USD 17,000 USD 11,000 USD Source (2019)
Canada 16,000 USD 12,000 USD 8,000 USD Source (2021)
Australia 15,100 USD 11,400 USD 7,600 USD Source (2021)

*Does not include monthly lifetime salaries of RM5,000 for gold, RM3,000 for silver, and RM2,000 for bronze

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Diane
9 months ago

I believe our Olympic Champions deserve to be awarded! Think of all the money that is made by all the entities involved. Our Athletes put their hearts and soul into their sport and deserve more. They spend their youth and young adulthood in extensive training to become an Olympic Athlete; they are the BEST in their sport. I hope the NCAA keeps their opinions to themselves; we don’t want them involved with the Olympic Games. Look at all the carnage they have caused in college sports. Let’s take care of our Athletes so they can have options in their future.

Ryan uSc
1 year ago

Would the full relay team get financial awards? Those swam in prelims but did not swim in finals? They technically get the medal but not the podium. Wondering if Santo did get his bag…

John
1 year ago

Why have you got Singapore ranked above indonesia where theirs is higher?

Canto Sandorelli
1 year ago

How does one go about obtaining Malaysian citizenship?

STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
1 year ago

An enterprising Aussie could make a fortune by switching allegiance to neighbouring Indonesia.

Troyy
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
1 year ago

Indonesia’s payouts can be so high because they win so few medals.

I do hope we find a solution for Olympic sports funding with a likely Brisbane 2032 on the horizon and that the funding doesn’t just peak for that Olympics and then crater again.

AnEn
1 year ago

1) More reward for a medal = more incentive to dope.
2) When i see Italy paying 212000 USD for gold, i am not surprised that they constantly ask the EU for money …

Last edited 1 year ago by AnEn
Hswimmer
1 year ago

Santo for Singapore, Paris 2024

Drama King
1 year ago

I’m pretty sure that cash rich Middle East countries (Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, KSA) will pay huge chunk of money for the medals.

TerryO
Reply to  Drama King
1 year ago

If they win anything, most of their athletes are runners from Kenya or Nigeria.
Barshim is like the only athlete he born in Qatar, but his parents are from South Sudan.

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