Thomas Bach: Reasons behind IOC chief stance against prize money at Olympics

Thomas Bach: Reasons behind IOC chief stance against prize money at Olympics

Festus Chuma 14:00 - 27.04.2024

IOC Chief Thomas Bach has opposed World Athletics' decision to award prize money at the Paris Olympics.

The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach has voiced his concerns over World Athletics' decision to award prize money to gold medallists at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

This controversial stance by World Athletics, led by its president Sebastian Coe, proposes a $50,000 (Ksh6.6 million) reward for track and field champions marking a significant shift in how athletes are compensated at the Games.

Bach has emphasized the importance of maintaining equality among athletes and nations within the Olympic movement. 

The administrator argued that international sports federations should concentrate on minimizing disparities rather than incentivizing with monetary rewards. 

"The international federations have to treat all their member federations and their athletes on an equal basis and to try to balance this gap between the privileged and the less or under-privileged," Bach stated as per AFP.

Bach's viewpoint reflects a broader concern about maintaining the foundational values of the Olympics, which traditionally emphasize participation and global unity over financial gain. 

The IOC chief reiterated that national Olympic committees could choose to reward their athletes, as was the case when he received a financial reward from the German committee after winning a fencing gold medal in 1976.

However, he made it clear that the responsibilities of international federations are distinct and should not include direct financial incentives.

The reaction to Coe's announcement has been mixed, with several leading athletes welcoming the move as a modern adaptation that recognizes their efforts and achievements. 

However, it has also sparked significant backlash among sports executives and governing bodies who fear that introducing prize money could exacerbate existing inequalities between nations with varying resources.

Criticism has also come from influential organizations within the Olympic community. 

The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) criticized the move as undermining the values of Olympism. 

Moreover, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa expressed strong disapproval, labeling the decision as "repugnant to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement."

The debate over prize money at the Olympics raises critical questions about the future direction of the Games and whether financial rewards could potentially overshadow the traditional spirit of the competition.

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