Olympic athletes are the best at their given sport — some of the best in the world at what they do. However, these athletes don’t have the prosperous life they deserve while sacrificing for the sport they love. As great and successful as popular Olympic athletes are, such as Simone Biles or Michael Phelps, who have been successful for years, there are others we should shed light on — other athletes that deserve the fame, success, and glory for the sacrifices they make to try to be the best at what they do. Olympic athletes deserve the recognition for what they are willing to put themselves through for the love of their sport and their country. So much wealth is gained from the Olympics, though very little of it is shared with the main attraction: the athletes themselves.
According to Vox, “NBC has paid $7.7 billion for broadcasting rights to show the Olympics through 2032, and it’s already sold $1.25 billion in ads for the Tokyo games. The Associated Press estimates the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which runs the Olympic Games, stands to make $3 billion to $4 billion on television rights for the delayed 2020 Olympics.” In addition to this, per the OCOG’s version of the budget, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games earned $6.7 billion in revenue.
These athletes deserve better. It’s unfortunate to see that these athletes go through hard work and training to represent their countries, doing what they love, only to not be provided sufficient aid by their country. Numerous top athletes involved in the Olympics earn millions annually for their advertisements and endorsements in partnerships with other companies. For example, Usain Bolt, in 2016, was said to earn $33 million annually, which was 10 times more than any other track athlete during the time. Bolt earned this amount of money from his partnerships with Puma, Visa, Gatorade, and other brands that wanted to work alongside the incredibly successful athlete. There are few athletes who become stars from their participation, such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Simone Biles, but others have to work regular jobs to earn enough money to live a good life. On top of working a regular job, they also have to endure intensive train.
It’s a shame that U.S. athletes who represent their country in the Olympics are not compensated by a rich country. It’s nearly impossible to have a job while being a top-level athlete and maintaining that level of athleticism. Participating in training camps, other sports events, as well as keeping up with the physical demands that are asked of athletes, make it difficult for these individuals. There are multiple necessities that these Olympic athletes need to keep themselves in top shape for competition. These necessities include equipment, nutrition, coaching, therapy, and travel. All of these things can add up to be a costly amount, nearing $100,000 per year, to afford everything altogether.
According to NBC, “As part of ‘Operation Gold,’ an initiative the USOPC launched in 2017, U.S. Olympians who reach the podium receive payments of $37,500 for every gold medal won, $22,500 for silver, and $15,000 for bronze.” Therefore, these athletes do get a bonus reward for their success in Olympic events. But, realistically, this bonus payment is not good enough to keep their lives stable.
These athletes that participate in the Olympics have to find jobs to maintain financial stability in their own lives; when they’re not participating in sports events, they have regular jobs just like us. For the most part, all the money these athletes earn during Olympic events comes from endorsements and medal bonuses, depending on their country. According to Insider, nearly 60 percent of Olympians aren’t financially stable, Americans having the worst of it. This survey was done right before the pandemic, making these athletes’ financial situations worse due to canceled events, where they earn profit.
Olympic athletes do the most for their countries, putting in a huge amount of work and effort in order to represent their specific countries to the best of their abilities. Not getting a significant pay or anything near what’ll help them live a decent life is a shame. Being an Olympian should come as an honor to all the athletes who are given the opportunity to be involved; they shouldn’t have to work additional full-time jobs to keep their lives in stable condition while going through intense training. A majority of the billions of dollars in earnings at the Olympics should go to the people that work the hardest in these games, the athletes.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Chang W. Lee / The New York Times