As the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan draw nearer and nearer, Hong Kong athletes competing at the Games have been made aware of an additional incentive to go after the gold.
Individual gold medalists will reportedly be given HK $5 million (~$644,000 USD), while silver medalists are set to earn HK $2.5 million (~$322,000 USD) and bronze medalists half of that amount at the Olympics. These figures represent a 66% increase from monetary prizes on offer for the 2016 Games in Rio, where an individual gold medalist was set to take home HK $3 million (~$386,000 USD).
Hong Kong didn’t win any medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics. A special administrative region of China, have competed in 16 editions of the Summer Olympics. They’ve won 1 gold in 1996 in women’s sailboard, 1 silver in 2004 in men’s table tennis doubles, and 1 bronze in 2012 in women’s cycling.
“Details of the scheme will be announced later but it will be the biggest ever,” the official said. “We have a number of athletes that will be able to challenge for medals in Tokyo this summer and we hope the scheme can recognize their hard work and commitment in real terms.”
As a point of reference, American athletes will receive $37,500 for each gold medal earned at the 2020 Olympic Games, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.
Of note, Hong Kong came away medalless at the 2016 Games. Short track cyclist Lee Wai Sze finished 6th, while Michael Cheng placed 8th in sailing.
Swimmer Siobhan Haughey made the semi-finals of the women’s 200m freestyle in 2016 but has already shown immense improvement and potential to bust through to a potential podium spot in Tokyo.
The former University of Michigan Wolverine placed 5th in the 200m free at the 2017 World Championships in a time of 1:55.96, a mark she lowered down to a new national record of 1:54.98 to place 4th at the 2019 edition of the elite competition. She missed the bronze medal in Gwangju by just .20.
Haughey has also made strides in her 100m free, striking down her 2017 Worlds performance of 54.05 to a new national record of 53.32 during the 2019 Mare Nostrum tour.
Haughey was the only Hong Kong athlete to advance out of prelims in any of the aquatic disciplines at the 2019 World Championships.