Cash For Medals

It was a very long time coming but Canada, along with nine other countries* now pays its athletes for podium finishes. It wasn’t without controversy as you might expect. I guess it was the puritanical thought that all Olympians would strive for excellence with excellence symbolized by that gold medal as its own reward. Sounds great but consider this. An athlete that trains full time for his/her sport will in all likely have to forego any time of full time employment, picking up part time work when and where it’s available which makes the average annual income for this type of athlete $15 000. So to have that augmented to a degree is certainly justified in my view.

Here’s what countries are paying their athletes for gold medal podium finishes. Some countries pay lesser amounts for silver and bronze medals. But, before you cast your eyes south in this blog, you might think it’s the Olympic superpowers that pay the most. Well, prepare to be surprised.

Italy – $182,400
Russia – $134,900
France – $65, 200
Switzerland – $40, 000
Japan – $35,900
China – $31,400
USA – $25,000
Australia – $20,300
Canada – $20,000
Germany – $19,500
I’m sure Kobe and Lebron will be thrilled with their $25 000 from the USOC! Hmm, what’s that about going back to amateurs at the Olympics?

According to the source of this information, I can conclude that all the rest of the countries in the Olympic family do not pay anything for podium finishes. So perhaps there are countries conspicuous by their absence rather than their presence on the list (can you say Great Britain, host for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games?).

Before I close, it’s only natural that with this Olympics the long standing argument about Olympic funding in general gets an airing and the two countries that share the world’s longest undefended border could not be more opposite, or are they?

In Canada, our Olympic programme is funded through tax dollars while in the U.S. funding for USOC programmes comes from corporate donations. Sounds opposite but I can make the case that it’s the tax payer/consumer that foots the bill in both countries. I’m sure that all those corporations in the U.S. have their respective accounting departments, ahem, accounting for all that “corporate funding” it provides in the price of their goods and/or services. Who purchases those goods and services? Well, we do, the aforementioned tax payer/consumer. In Canada, we do have corporations that step up to the plate to fund programmes. One need only look at curling to see Kruger, Tims and M & M Meat Shops as evidence. So those out there slagging corporate Canada, look below the Olympic surface and you’ll see a different story!

Not much difference from where I sit behind a pane in the glass, or in this case, in front of my big screen surround sound TV watching the world’s great athletes perform on the biggest stage.

* If your country pays its athletes for Olympic podium finishes and you’re not on my list, my apologies and do send me the correct data for your country so I can include it.