British swimmer Matt Richards calls for IOC to offer Olympic medal bonuses

British swimmer Matt Richards calls for IOC to offer Olympic medal bonuses

Festus Chuma 18:02 - 19.04.2024

A British swimmer has criticized the IOC for not offering financial rewards to Olympic athletes.

Team Great Britain world champion swimmer Matt Richards has launched a scathing critique of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) current compensation policies for Olympic athletes.

The swimmer's call for action comes as World Athletics introduces significant financial rewards for medalists at Paris 2024, sparking discussions about equity across all Olympic sports.

Richards, who clinched the title in the men’s 200m freestyle at last year’s World Championships, voiced his concerns over the disparity in athlete compensation. 

"Winning Olympic gold is incredible and that’s why we go, knowing we’re not going to make a lot of money off the back of it," Richards stated as per Mirror.

"The Olympics generate substantial revenue every four years, yet athletes see little financial benefit."

The young champion emphasized the economic struggles many athletes face, highlighting that some are barely able to make ends meet.

 "There are athletes who struggle week in and week out, barely managing to put food on their table. Hearing stories of athletes going bankrupt just to compete at the Olympics is simply not right," Richards added.

With track and field athletes set to earn £40,000 ( Ksh 6,642,319) for a gold medal at the upcoming Paris Games, Richards urged IOC President Thomas Bach to ensure similar incentives are available in all sports. 

"If the IOC offered a blanket amount across all sports, it would not only help athletes financially but also boost morale and motivation," he suggested.

Critics argue that introducing monetary rewards could undermine the traditional values of the Olympics, which have long celebrated amateurism and the spirit of participation over financial gain. 

However, the IOC defends its stance by highlighting its significant daily investments of $4.2 million (Ksh 561,057,000) in grassroots sports development.

Richards also commented on the evolving nature of the Olympics, which now features high-earning professional athletes from sports like basketball, football, and tennis. 

"It’s no longer just an amateur Games. When you have players earning millions each year participating, it's clear that the financial landscape of the Olympics has changed," he remarked.

Outside of the pool, Richards is actively planning his future, including investing in the stock market and real estate. 

He is also preparing for a post-Games wedding with fellow swimmer Emily Large. 

Meanwhile, his contemporary, Australian freestyler James Magnussen, has taken a controversial stand by joining the Enhanced Games, aiming to secure a $1 million (Ksh 133,585,000) prize through deliberate doping in an attempt to break a world record.

However, Richards remains hopeful that governing bodies like World Aquatics will take action. 

"I’d definitely welcome any support from World Aquatics regarding medal bonuses. It’s crucial we have these conversations to better support athletes who dedicate their lives to excelling at the Olympics," he concluded.

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