IOC Executive Board and rewards for Olympic performance. GETTY IMAGES

The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discussed the financial rewards that athletes receive for their performances at the Olympic Games. It concluded that such rewards should be supported when they come from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), but not when they come from the International Federations (IFs).

The IOC EB expressed its full support for fair financial rewards for athletes, provided they are the result of effort and dedication.

In addition, the EB recognised that financial rewards from National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to athletes for their success in the Olympic Games have been a common practice for many decades.

It was emphasised that it is common practice for many (NOCs), as well as governments, private institutions, sponsors and others, to provide financial rewards to athletes for their sporting achievements.

The current IOC President, Germany's Thomas Bach, himself reported that he had received a financial reward after winning Olympic gold with his fencing teammates at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

During the discussion, the IOC EB emphasised the different roles of the stakeholders in the Olympic Movement. To support athletes, the IOC distributes 90 per cent of all its income to the development of sport and athletes worldwide, as stated on its official website. The remaining 10 per cent is used to cover the operating costs of the parent organisation.

This equates to $4.2 million per day. The NOCs and International Federations (IFs) are the main recipients of this money, also through the Olympic Solidarity Programme. They also share in the commercial success of the Olympic Games.

Executive Board meeting at IOC headquarters in Lausanne in March 2024. GETTY IMAGES
Executive Board meeting at IOC headquarters in Lausanne in March 2024. GETTY IMAGES

The IOC Executive Board concluded that each of the different organisations that make up the Olympic Movement should continue to divide their work efficiently according to their different roles.

NOCs and IFs have different roles to play to ensure that their support for athletes is effective and transparent. The NOCs must develop athletes, provide them with the best possible training and competition conditions, and support them in their education and daily life related to their profession.

Athletes participate in the Olympic Games as members of the Olympic teams of their respective NOCs. The vast majority of NOCs reward their team members for their performance at the Olympic Games.

For their part, IFs have a different role because, according to the EB, athletes do not participate as members of their sport but as members of their national Olympic team.

Consequently, the IFs must develop their sport universally, without distinction of nationality. The fundamental task is to give as many people as possible access to their sport. Some federations try to gradually reduce the gap between athletes from more and less privileged countries as a growth strategy.

In other words, NOCs want their athletes to win medals, so it is acceptable for them to offer rewards, whereas IFs should focus on creating more equitable conditions for all their athletes.

IOC President Thomas Bach speaks in a press conference during 2024 Olympic Qualifier Series on 19 May 2024 in Shanghai, China. GETTY IMAGES
IOC President Thomas Bach speaks in a press conference during 2024 Olympic Qualifier Series on 19 May 2024 in Shanghai, China. GETTY IMAGES

These different responsibilities were recently reaffirmed by theAssociation of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the Winter Olympic Federations (WOF) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), as reported to the IOC EB by Nenad Lalović, representative of the Summer Olympic International Federations, Ivo Ferriani, representative of the Winter Olympic Federations, and ANOC President Robin Mitchell.

IOC Athletes Commission President Emma Terho said: "Our Commission is committed to increasing support for athletes; this is what the IOC and our Commission have been focusing on. Rewarding athletes financially for their achievements at the Games is common practice for many National Olympic Committees and governments, while International Federations help to develop their sport worldwide and close the development gap between the haves and have-nots.

"Each role is important for athletes and for sport in general, because without this work, the disparities between athletes worldwide would be much greater than they are today," concluded Terho, who won two Olympic bronze medals (in 5 Winter Games) in ice hockey with Finland during her athletic career.