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IOC hints at lack of solidarity in athletics prize money decision



International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has suggested that instead of offering prize money for Olympic gold medallists in Paris, World Athletics should focus its funding on supporting athletes at the other end of the spectrum.

Athletics broke with a 128-year tradition in April by announcing it would become the first sport to offer $50,000 in prize money for its Olympic champions, starting in Paris this year.

The announcement by World Athletics (WA) President Sebastian Coe, who is also an IOC member but did not discuss his plan with the Olympic body, was welcomed by many athletes.

It was also met with surprise and sharp criticism by other international sports federations which accused Coe of failing to consult them prior to his unilateral move.

“This is not a discussion about prize money because prize money exists for decades,” Bach said in an online media roundtable on Friday.

“My (fencing) team mates and I in 1976, we received prize money for our gold medal through the foundation supported by the national Olympic Committee (of Germany). In the meantime this is more or less common practice among NOCs.”

Bach said while sponsors, governments or private institutions provided payments to athletes for Olympic success, the role of an international sports federation was not that.

“This question in principle is a question of how to support the athletes best,” Bach said, adding that his organisation reinvested 90 percent of its revenues, with national Olympic Committees and international federations (IFs) being major beneficiaries.

“The NOCs and IFs are major recipients of this money, of this share of the commercial success of the Games,” Bach said.

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