Canadian athletes to be paid for Olympic medals

Canadian athletes to be paid for Olympic medals

Nov 19, 2007 09:12 AM

OTTAWA – For the first time, Canada’s athletes will be paid for winning medals at Olympic games.

Athletes will receive up to $20,000 per medal at the Games.

The Canadian Olympic Committee says the athlete support and reward program is a way to compensate high-performance athletes for the financial burdens they often face while training for Olympic Games.

The committee says gold medals will garner the higher amount, while silver medal winners will be paid $15,000 and bronze medal winners $10,000.

The performance awards will apply to all Olympic sports, and will be the same whether athletes are in a team or individual sport.

The first athletes to qualify for the awards will compete in Beijing next year.


Good to hear, from what I read in the newspaper its the same amounts as US athletes except they get 25k for gold. I guess the real money comes from endorsements etc, but this is good news, especially for sports that pay very little.

Games medals will glitter with money - Sports - Games medals will glitter with money
Olympic association to pay Canadian athletes for first time for getting to the podium in Beijing

November 20, 2007
Randy Starkman

If kayaker Adam Van Koeverden or rower Jane Rumball got into sports for the money, they picked the wrong ones.

Still, they were among many Canadian athletes who welcomed the news yesterday that for the first time ever they’ll be in line for bonuses if they can capture medals at next summer’s Beijing Olympics.

The Canadian Olympic Committee announced yesterday that they will award $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze at the 2008 Games.

Under this setup, speed skater Cindy Klassen would have collected $70,000 for her five medals at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

Rumball likes the idea, but doesn’t view it as an incentive.

“None of us are going to have the thought, in my mind, at the start gate, `Oh, okay this is for the $20,000,’” said Rumball, who with Darcy Marquardt won the women’s pair event at the 2006 world championships. “It’s one of those things that you just don’t think about.”

Canada is joining a long line of countries that pay bonuses for Olympic medals, including the U.S., China and Italy. If you’re talking incentive, look at what Rumball and Marquardt’s rivals from Belarus will get if they can win the Olympic gold medal in Beijing - an apartment in Minsk and $100,000.

Diver Alexandre Despatie, a silver medallist in Athens in 2004, knows of similar tales from his Chinese peers.

“I’ve heard sometimes as a reward they get a house or a car,” said Despatie. “After they retire, they get a job with the government as a sports consultant or things like that. Of course, for them, it’s a huge motivation from the get-go because their family might get a chance to live better if they get good at the sport.”

Olympic champion kayaker Van Koeverden said that if Canada wants its athletes to compete against the best then it needs to help them train like the best. He said the rewards are a chance to lessen the financial hardship on athletes and their families.

“It’s a great recognition and acknowledgement that bringing champions home from the Olympics is great for Canada and the community that we live in,” he said.

Rumball, who didn’t receive any government funding when she won her world title a year ago, said she would use any bonus money towards her education. She’ll be starting medical school at U of T after the Olympics and is facing annual tuition costs of $17,000.

“Amateur athletes, one thing that may set us apart, is we do have internal motivation to succeed and perform our best simply because we know we’re ambassadors for our country, but we’ve gotten to this stage because we do have this pure, raw joy for the sport and this passion supersedes any financial incentive,” she said.

The COA would have spent only $180,000 on bonuses at the last Summer Games in Athens, where the three gold, six silver and three bronze won were the lowest total since 1988 in Seoul and left Canada a dismal 21st overall. The COC’s goal is a top-16 finish at Beijing.

Athletes will also have a chance to earn a $5,000 bonus in the first two years of an Olympic cycle by placing top-five at the world championships or an equivalent event. They need to finish top four in the year before the Olympics.

Opening the wallet for winners
The Canadian Olympic Committee will be paying its medal-winning athletes under a lucrative incentive program

November 20, 2007

Prizes for Olympic athletes have come a long way since Spiridon Louis won a lifetime of haircuts and a donkey-drawn Greek royal carriage for winning the marathon race at Athens in 1896.

Fair to say times are a-changin’.

Beginning at the Beijing Olympics next summer, Canadian athletes will join those of other countries and receive cash rewards for winning medals at a Games.

The take? Try $20,000 for a gold medal from the Canadian Olympic Committee, with $15,000 going to a silver medalist and $10,000 to a bronze winner.

It’s not as much as the value some countries put on Olympic podium performances - the United States Olympic Committee offers $25,000 for gold, South Korea gives a lifetime pension and Norway issues a piece of land.
But it’s a far cry from 1948, when Canadian figure skater Barbara Ann Scott had to decline the offer of a free convertible because of strict amateur rules.

“It helps get athletes off the poverty line,” said Adam van Koeverden, the paddler from Oakville, Ont., who won gold and bronze medals at the Athens Olympics in 2004. "It’s not an incentive, because winning Olympic gold is priceless. I wouldn’t give up mine for $20,000 or $20-million. But it’s a reward, not a motivator.

“For years and years, we work and put our families in financial difficulty. We’d still go for gold … but you don’t want your athletes to starve.”

Federal athlete assistance grants amount to $18,000 a year, and the COC offers $5,000 in annual developmental money, which means an athlete living at home is no longer a poverty case, van Koeverden said in Ottawa. “The amount isn’t important. The idea is.”

All Canadian athletes, in Summer and Winter Games, will be eligible for the cash rewards, including professionals, such as NHL players who will make up the Olympic squad at Vancouver in 2010.

It’s the first time Canada’s once strictly amateur athletes will be paid for winning medals at the high-performance competitions.

Offering an incentive program to the best performers had been debated - and rejected - in Canada for more than two decades, COC president Michael Chambers said during its “media summit” yesterday.

Canadian athletes have long watched other countries reward their athletes varying amounts for gaining medals.

Five-time Olympic shooter Susan Nattrass said her counterparts from an oil-rich state in the Middle East, for example, stood to get as much as $1-million for a gold.

The COC decided, in conjunction with its athlete advisory council, to concentrate its efforts more toward achieving results at Olympic Games and less on spreading money thinly across a wide range of programs.

“If you want me to go and compete with the world’s best, then I’ve got to be able to train like the world’s best,” van Koeverden said. “I don’t think I should have to live in poverty in order to accomplish my goals.”

The COC will stock its Athlete Excellence Fund with $1.3-million trimmed annually from other programs, Chambers said.

He added that the reward amounts in other countries vary “wildly,” with some offering more and some less.

“But in most of those other countries that have large rewards at the end of the trip if you win a Games, they have very little in the way of development programs leading into the Games,” he said. “So it’s all or nothing. That’s not where we wanted to go.”

Performance awards will apply to all Olympic sports - summer and winter, team and individual and professional and non-professional, Chambers said. He added that all athletes, including the pro hockey stars, will be advised that they can turn back their reward money and get a tax credit for it. The COC is waiting for an opinion from Canada Revenue Agency on whether the medal reward money is taxable. The developmental payments are tax-free.

Chambers cited swimming icon Alex Baumann, who heads up the Road to Excellence program, which funds medal-oriented projects for Summer Olympians, as saying Canada already had paid into broad-based sport development, “but now it’s time to move past the participation and into winning.”

“When I first heard about the program, I thought, right on,” hurdler Perdita Felicien of Pickering, Ont., said. The former two-time world champion has designs on an Olympic medal in Beijing.

“It’s not an incentive, not for people who have been to an Olympic Games. It’s not going to send you off gambling in Las Vegas. But it would help you get over that financial burden that’s left afterwards.”


Marc Gagnon, 2002

2002: 2 gold, 1 bronze.


Adam van Koeverden, 2004

2004: 1 gold, 1 bronze.


Cindy Klassen, 2006

2006: 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze.


A comparison of prizes offered by some countries for gold, silver and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Gold Silver Bronze Plus
Belarus $100,000 (U.S.) $50,000 (U.S.) $30,000 (U.S.) Each medal winner will also be granted an apartment in Minsk
Canada $20,000 (Cdn.) $15,000 (Cdn.) $10,000 (Cdn.)
France ?50,000 ?20,000 ?13,000 Paralympic athletes will earn same as able-bodied athletes
Russia $50,000 (U.S.) $20,000 (U.S.) $10,000 (U.S.) Olympic Committee adds $50,000 (U.S.) to kitty for gold winners
United States $25,000 (U.S.) $15,000 (U.S.) $10,000 (U.S.)

France was listed as Euros.

I need to win 2 golds and 1 silver for Canada at 2008 Olympics to live my life.

Either you’re very old- or live outdoors in a tent.

I’ll take the latter Charlie.

Sorry the amount I calculated that at is my current wage, and also in Australian dollars. Don’t think it is bad, 10 minute walk to beach, 20 minutes from the city centre…

Although suggesting $20K is worthwhile is staggering.