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Paralympian medalists will earn the same as Olympian counterparts for the first time in Tokyo Games

Paralympian medalists will earn the same as Olympian counterparts for the first time in Tokyo Games

Through the Operation Gold Awards for Paralympics, their payout was increased by as much as 400 percent.

The pay gap between Olympians and Paralympic athletes is finally coming to an end officially starting with the 2021 Tokyo games. The rules for differential pay for the athletes were changed following the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) board of directors decided to direct more resources to Paralympic sports and increase their payout through the Operation Gold Awards for Paralympics by as much as 400%. The International Paralympic Committee released a statement regarding the decision in 2018.



 

 

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in the funding model that we felt needed to change. I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we're eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in Pyeongchang.” The US Paralympic Team won 36 medals at the winter games, topping the medals table. The pay hike was also made retrospectively to all the medalists at the 2018 games.



 

 

This retroactive increase was able to pay more than 1.2 million dollars in the hands of the 2018 Winter Paralympic medallists. “I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we're eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in Pyeongchang,” Hirshland had stated. Now, starting in the 2021 games, Paralympic athletes will receive $37,500 for each gold medal earned at the Paralympic Games, $22,500 for silver, and $15,000 for bronze, just like their Olympic counterparts, reported TODAY. They have finally been raised to the same level playing field with the Olympians.



 

 

Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long recalled the time media crowded around the Olympic swimmers while leaving their Paralympic counterparts in the dark during the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. But after the 2018 rule change, she was delighted. Speaking to The New York Times she had said, “We’ve arrived. When I was on the Beijing team with my friends, we were like: ‘Do you think we will ever get to that point? Do you think people will ever recognize Paralympics?’ For it to be in the name, it's a huge, huge step.” Long has won 23 medals and has been a four-time Paralympian.



 

 

This financial support will go a long way in supporting many athletes who are not well-off irrespective of how much there is to be made from the Olympics. John Grady, a sports law professor at the University of South Carolina told Vox, "If you’re not a household name, you’re probably not on the top of the endorsement food chain." The various rules, regulations, and restrictions don't allow many athletes to get sponsorship and endorsements. Many athletes even have a full-time job to be able to afford their living expenses in addition to the money that goes into pursuing their sport.



 

 

At the time the rule was to come into effect, Paralympic champion Oksana Masters tweeted an emotional message, “As I was reading this tears literally were streaming down my face not only because of the equal pay for @Paralympics medals to @USParalympics athlete but the value and worth of Para athletes finally viewed equal to @Olympics. This is absolutely LIFE changing @TeamUSA thank you.” Paralympic Alpine skier Andrew Kurka said, "I was able to finally buy a house and to start up an actual life. It’s a drop in the bucket, we get it once every four years, but it makes a huge difference." 



 

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