IOC criticises World Athletics for deciding to pay Paris 2024 gold medallists. GETTY IMAGES

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach suggested that World Athletics should prioritise funding to support athletes at the grassroots level rather than offering prize money to gold medal winners at the Paris Olympics.

World Athletics' decision breaks with 128 years of Olympic tradition, where each medallist would receive €46,000. "The money should be used for the development of the sport," said Bach in an interview with the BBC. "The measure affects 48 athletes out of the 2,000 who will compete."

Sebastian Coe defended the decision to award prize money, saying, "These are changing times. The sport is not the same today as it was decades ago. That has nothing to do with it. And that is why it is time to make changes."

Coe revealed that gold medallists will receive cash prizes at Paris 2024, breaking with 128 years of Olympic tradition. The move has been criticised by Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic official disagrees, suggesting it would be better to "channel the money into the development of the sport", according to Pulse Sport.

World Athletics has announced that a total of $2.4 million (€2.2m) has been set aside from the money it receives every four years from the IOC. The money is intended to reward athletes who win a gold medal in each of the 48 athletics events in Paris. Specifically, they have indicated that their allocation will be €46,000.

Thomas Bach has always been against paying athletes for winning medals. GETTY IMAGES
Thomas Bach has always been against paying athletes for winning medals. GETTY IMAGES

Bach attempted to justify his criticism of what Coe and World Athletics believe is appropriate for today's world. He argued that athletes put in a lot of effort and sacrifice and need a reward that goes beyond glory. 

His position is the same now as it was a few weeks ago when Coe announced he wanted to start awarding athletes. He has always opposed the proposal and now seems to be doing so with even more vigour. "The role of international federations is to develop the sport worldwide and provide opportunities for athletes in their member countries," he told BBC Sport.

"The role of international federations, in our view and in the view of all other international federations, is to develop their sport worldwide. And to give the best possible opportunities to all athletes in their member federations: To give them the best training conditions, the best facilities, to at least narrow the gap between athletes from more privileged countries and athletes from less privileged countries," Bach told the BBC. 

World Athletics, for its part, defended its stance, saying, "We understand that we already redistribute the income that we receive from the IOC to the member federations through the Grant for Growth."

However, Bach has now issued his most forceful rebuttal yet to the historic plan by world athletics, claiming that they should be spending the money on the development of their sport worldwide.