Paralympians and Olympians will now earn the same dollar prize per medal performance, the United States Olympic Committee announced Friday.
Paralympic payouts under Operation Gold, which provides rewards to athletes who medal at Paralympic and Olympic Games, will increase by as much as 400 percent.
“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change. I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we’re eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in Pyeongchang.”
Under the new standards, athletes will collect $37,500 gold medals earned at the Paralympic Games, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze. Athletes who medaled at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will retroactively be awarded the new amount – they are now collectively owed over $1.2 million for the 36 medals won in February.
The USOC Athlete Advisory Council had a say in the decision.
“September 21st, 2018. The day Paralympic athletes became equals in the United States,” Paralympic swimmer Tom Miazga wrote on Facebook. “All the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices a Paralympic athlete must demonstrate to be the best are finally being recognized as a feat of superhuman talent, regardless of the physical hurdles they must endure.”
“The future is bright for the US Paralympic Organization.”