The Livelihood of Athletes, a Subject that Often Receives Less Attention

Nine years after Marius Vizer, in the SportAccord General Assembly, suggested the allocation of a part of the net income of the Olympic TV Channel to athletes, which brought the issue of their livelihood to headline news, World Athletes has made a statement that 50,000 dollars cash prizes will be paid to its champions at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

On the same note, Thomas Bach, in an online panel while opposing any kind of cash payment of prizes in sports competitions and the Olympic Games, pointed that it is contradictory to the existing bylaws in International Sports Federations (IFs) and by referring to WA, emphasized that more appropriate systematic approaches should be considered to support the athletes and develop sports infrastructure.

The financial situation of athletes is tightly related to the economic conditions of the country of their residence on one hand, while clarifying how much political and social stability essentially exists for the development of sports infrastructure in developing and underdeveloped countries to encourage international federations and the International Olympic Committee to invest, and on the other hand, it is related to the greater policies of IFs and IOC in terms of how geographical expansion of sports shapes their concerns in the business scene. In this sense, the level of participation of athletes in world competitions and even the Olympics depends on the incentives that international sports federations consider for athletes. A look at statistics also shows that still many countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East where athletes are in need of sports facilities and equipment, do not have participants in many sports fields.

Cash Prize Payments to Champions, Not a Solution
Regardless of Thomas Bach’s statement about payment of cash prizes to champions being inconsistent with the bylaws of international sports federations, such payments may also increase the potential for corruption, refereeing collusions and manipulation of medal distribution. Experience shows that governments that pay sums of money to athletes in return for becoming champions also have to grapple with the problem of performance enhancing drugs and systematic doping. Also, government kickbacks emerge under the shadow of such payments pushing elements of meritocracy and fair play to margins. Basically, it seems discriminatory to consider cash prizes as an excuse to improve the financial wellbeing of the athletes for a few who become Olympic champions, whereas a significant number of athletes for any reason, still lack the opportunity to engage in sports or the chance to participate in international competitions and the Olympics.

Provide Necessary Facilities for Athletes to Participate in International Competitions

Providing the necessary facilities for athletes to prepare for participation in official competitions that lead to obtaining quotas for continental and the Olympic games, together with allocating financial resources or limited funds for airline tickets and lodging for those athletes who lack sufficient finances, not only will help improve the livelihood of the athletes, but it will also mark the geographical expansion of sports in the realm of championship.

In this regard, before instilling the project of cash prize payments into the public mind without having overseeing mechanisms, it should be considered to improve the sports circumstances of athletes who neither have access to educational resources nor do they have the financial ability to travel and participate in international competitios.

SportsEmic Editorial Team

By Farzad Youshanlou