REVEALED: America’s Paralympic medalists in Tokyo will be paid the same as Olympic athletes for the first time, with $37,500 for each gold – a 400 percent increase for some Paralympians
- All American athletes now receive $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze
- Paralympic athletes previously received $7,500 for a gold medal, $5,250 for silver and $3,750 for bronze
- Eight-time Paralympic ski medalist Oksana Masters described the decision as ‘life-changing’ for her and many others
- The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled for August 8. The Paralympic Games will start on August 25 and end on September 5.
The Tokyo Games will mark the first time American Paralympic medalists have been paid the same as their Olympic counterparts.
All athletes now receive $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze — a 400 percent increase for some Paralympians.
Paralympic athletes previously received $7,500 for a gold medal, $5,250 for silver and $3,750 for bronze.
Oksana Masters, 32, celebrated at the medal ceremony for the women’s 5km cross country at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games. Masters has won eight Paralympic medals in three sports
2018 medalists received pay increases retroactively, but the Tokyo Games will be the first time the pay has been equal from the start.
Following the committee’s decision, more than $1.2 million in back payments was given to Paralympic medalists. Huff Post reported.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) made the announcement months after the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
A year later, the USOC changed its name to the word “Paralympic” – the first Olympic Committee in the world to do so – and is now the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
American gold medalist Jessica Long, 29, poses after winning the women’s 400m freestyle during day five of the 2017 Para Swimming World Championship in Mexico City
Long has won 23 Paralympic medals, 13 of which were gold, after competing in four Paralympic Games. She is one of the world’s most decorated swimmers
The postponed 2020 Olympics are scheduled for August 8. The Paralympic Games will start on August 25 and end on September 5.
USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said: “Paralympics are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to make sure we reward their performance appropriately.
“Our financial investment in the US Paralympic Games and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where there was a discrepancy in our funding model that we felt needed to change.”
Raymond Martin, 29, won four gold medals at his first Paralympics in 2012. That same year, he was nominated for an ESPY and named Paralympic SportsMan of the Year.
The announcement received an immediate response from Team USA Paralympians.
At the time, eight-time Paralympic ski medalist Oksana Masters posted an emotional video on social media to celebrate the decision.
“I just got the best news possible,” Masters said through tears.
“This is absolutely life-changing, not just for me, but for so many Paralympians out there. And the fact that a nine-year-old girl at the LA 2028 Games will have a huge amount of opportunities…I can’t thank you enough,” she added.
While the move to Operation Gold – the program that pays American medalists – is a step in the right direction for Paralympics, the Games still have a long way to go towards achieving equality.
NBC hosted just 250 hours of the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games, compared to 2,400 hours of the Olympics.
And deaf and partially blind swimmer Becca Meyers, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games, left Team USA for Tokyo because the USOPC didn’t allow her mother and personal care assistant to travel with her.