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