Athletics-Athletics' Olympic prize money plan unfair to other sports, Redgrave says

FILE PHOTO: The Olympics rings and the logos of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics Games are pictured on the Pulse building, the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics organizing committee, in Saint-Denis near Paris, France, March 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq

(Reuters) - World Athletics' (WA) decision to give prize money to Olympic gold medallists is unfair to other sports that cannot afford to do the same, Britain's five-times Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave said.

Athletics became the first sport to offer prize money to Olympic champions when WA President Sebastian Coe announced on Wednesday that gold medallists in Paris this year will each earn $50,000.

The announcement was met with a positive reaction from the world's leading athletes, with the $2.4 million prize pot to be split among the 48 gold medallists in Paris.

A total of $540 million was allocated to the 28 sports at the Tokyo Games with World Athletics receiving the most at $40 million.

Redgrave, who won five successive Olympic gold medals between 1984 and 2000, said the prize money plan would turn the Olympics into a "two-tier" system.

"If you win an Olympic gold medal in any athletics event, you are able to earn substantial financial gains from those results," the 62-year-old told the Daily Mail in an interview published on Thursday.

"It smacks a bit hard for the sports that can't afford to do this. Rowing is in that situation. We struggle bringing sponsorship and finance into it. This separates the elite sports to the others like rowing, canoeing and most combat sports.

"They just don't have the same funding that there is in World Athletics. I would prefer that the money they're putting in to be helping more of the grassroots of their own sports – or helping other Olympic sports to be able to be at the same level on the same footprint."

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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