Paris Olympics: Athletics gold medallists to win prizemoney in groundbreaking first at Paris Games

Athletics has become the first sport to offer prize money to Olympic champions, announcing on Wednesday that the 48 gold medallists in Paris this year will earn US$50,000 (NZ$83,681) each.

Silver and bronze medallists will also earn prize money, but only from the 2028 Los Angeles Games, with details to be announced at a later date.

NZ pole vaulter Eliza McCartney.
NZ pole vaulter Eliza McCartney. Photo credit: Photosport

"This is the continuation of a journey we started back in 2015, which sees all the money World Athletics receives from the International Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games go directly back into our sport," World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said, after announcing the US$2.4 million (NZ$4.01m) prize pot for the Paris Games.

"While it is impossible to put a marketable value on winning an Olympic medal ... I think it is important we make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes at the Olympic Games are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is."

Relay teams will share the winners' prize pot.

When Briton Coe won his 1500 metres gold medals at the 1980 and 1984 Games, the Olympics was officially a competition for amateurs, as was athletics. Although his sport soon fully embraced professionalism, the Olympics has remained free from prizemoney, though athletes in many sports can expect hefty bonuses from sponsors for triumphing in the biggest shop window of all.

Athletics is the Olympics' biggest sport by number of participants and TV audiences, but the vast majority of the athletes, including many Olympic medallists, face a constant struggle for funding.