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Yes, Olympians from some countries get paid more than US athletes for winning medals

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee pays athletes who earn medals, but those payouts are far less than what athletes in some other countries receive.

One of the most recognized Olympic traditions is athletes biting on their medals. The moments are captured by photographers to forever memorialize each medalist’s fulfilled lifelong dream of succeeding on the world’s biggest athletic stage.

While the accomplishment for athletes is about much more than money, there has been discussion online about how much athletes get paid for winning medals. A TikToK video posted by Monica Aksamit, a 2016 bronze medalist in fencing, says athletes from some other countries get paid more for medals than Americans do. The video has been shared more than 23,000 times and has more than 20 million views.

THE QUESTION

Do athletes from some other countries get paid more than U.S. Olympians for winning medals?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, some Olympians from other countries get paid more than American athletes for winning medals. However, some of the monetary awards Aksamit posts in her video are not accurate.

WHAT WE FOUND

Some athletes from other countries, but not all, get paid more than American athletes for winning Olympic medals. At the Tokyo Olympics, American athletes will receive $37,500 for each gold medal, $22,500 for each silver medal and $15,000 for each bronze medal, according to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC). Those totals are a 50% increase from the winnings offered for medals during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games.

A 2016 law made it so that money is not taxable for athletes whose gross income is less than $1 million.

But VERIFY found there are athletes in other countries that get paid more, in some instances significantly more, for winning Olympic medals. One example is Singapore.

In the 1990s, the Singapore National Olympic Council established a program, now called the Major Games Award Programme, which pays athletes who win medals at Olympic, Asian, Commonwealth and South East Asian Games. Athletes who win a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics for Singapore earn $1 million Singapore dollars – equivalent to about $740,000 U.S. dollars (USD). Silver medalists win $500,000 Singapore dollars, about $370,000 USD, and bronze medalists win $250,000 Singapore dollars, about $185,000 USD. Only one Singaporean athlete has ever won a gold medal at the Olympics -- swimmer Joseph Schooling in 2016.

There are ceilings on how much a Singapore medalist can win. The payout limit is one gold medal at the Olympics. That money is taxable. Plus, the athlete must direct at least 20% of the money back to their national sports association for future training.

In her TikTok video, Aksamit cites Singapore but doesn’t convert Singapore dollars to American dollars, so she incorrectly states how much each medalist wins.

While Singapore offered the highest payout VERIFY researchers found, athletes from other countries can also get six-figure awards for winning a gold medal. That includes Olympians from Malaysia and Italy.

The Malaysia National Sports Council says the payout for gold medalists is 1 million ringgits ($236,000 USD), 300,000 ringgits ($71,000 USD) for silver medalists and 100,000 ringgits ($24,000 USD) for bronze medalists. The Italian National Olympic Committee awards gold medalists 180,000 euros ($213,000 USD), silver medalists 90,000 euros ($106,000 USD) and 60,000 euros for bronze ($71,000 USD).

The Philippines had its first-ever gold medalist at this year’s games in weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz. As part of the Philippine Sports Commission’s rules, Diaz will get 10 million Philippine pesos, equivalent to about $200,000 USD for winning gold. Silver medalists are paid 5 million pesos ($100,000 USD) and bronze medalists receive 2 million pesos ($40,000 USD).

While Aksamit is correct in her video to point out Filipino athletes get paid more than Americans for winning medals, she incorrectly describes how much those athletes make. Aksamit says Filipino gold medalists receive $656,000 USD. The discrepancy likely comes from reports that Diaz is receiving additional money from the Philippine government and from private donors.

Although they don’t receive six-figure awards, Brazilian athletes also get paid more than Americans for winning medals. The Brazilian Olympic Committee is giving awards of 250,000 Brazilian reals ($48,000 USD) for gold medals, 150,000 reals ($29,000 USD) for silver medals and 100,000 reals ($19,000 USD) for bronze medals.

However, there are medalists in other countries that get paid less than U.S. medalists. 

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Excellence Fund pays gold medalists $20,000 Canadian dollars ($16,000 USD), silver medalists $15,000 Canadian dollars ($12,000 USD) and bronze medalists $10,000 Canadian dollars ($8,000 USD). The Australian Olympic Committee says Olympians get paid $20,000 Australian dollars ($15,000 USD) for gold medals, $15,000 Australian dollars ($11,000 USD) for silver medals and $10,000 Australian dollars for bronze medals ($7,000 USD).

More from VERIFY: Yes, two medal contenders were disqualified from an Olympic race because their natural testosterone levels were too high

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