When the Philippines secured its historic first gold medal in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics thanks to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, a number of reports followed soon after, revealing the national hero had also earned a grand total of ₱33 million Philippine pesos (AU$888,850), two free houses, as well as a lifetime of free flights courtesy of AirAsia. Naturally, this development stoked a fair amount of curiosity among the public, leading many to ask: how much do Olympians get paid?
Granted, Diaz is quite an extraordinary case, hence all the grabby headlines. Initially, in terms of money alone, she was only set to pocket ₱10 million – approximately AU$270,000 – from the country’s Sports Commission. That was until tycoons Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang each pledged an additional ₱10 million incentive. The ₱3 million cherry on top came from House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero.
Australia, however, offers far less Olympic medal prize money relative to other nations. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the non-profit Australian Sports Foundation discovered just under half of the 521 athletes questioned were “teetering on the brink of retirement“, taking home less than $23,000 a year.
“It was quite shocking,’’ says Patrick Walker, CEO of Australian Sports Foundation.
“It is a real burden for the athletes, but I don’t think the public understands that. Apart from a small handful, these guys are on the breadline.”
According to The Daily Telegraph, the perfect example can be illustrated with decorated swimming legend, Emma McKeon. For her record result of four gold medals and three bronze medals in Tokyo, she’ll only be receiving $112,500. If she were competing for Singapore, that same result would net her a far more considerable $4,773,000.
“I know how hard it is – I have been there – but rather than whinge, I want to be part of the solution,’’ says Natalie Cook, Olympic gold medallist in beach volleyball and President of the Queensland Olympic Council.
“And I’m calling on everyone to come together and update a system which was put in place for the Sydney Olympics but must be upgraded, particularly for Brisbane 2032.”
“It would be different if our support along the way was on a par with the rest of the world but we are so far behind. The softball girls had to pay to go to the Olympic selection camp in Sydney. There is no health cover, no sick pay, no super – and if you get injured you can lose your funding.”
Check out the global comparison regarding how much Olympians get paid below.
How much do Olympians get paid around the world? [Tokyo 2021 Medal Prize Money]
**Converted to AUD – rounded up / down where appropriate
- Hong Kong
- Russia (ROC)
- United States of America
- South Africa