Australia’s Paralympians will be rewarded at the same rate as Olympians for the medals they have won at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Gold medal winners will receive $20,000, silver medals will attract $15,000 and a bronze will be worth $10,000, equal to the amounts awarded to Australia’s Olympians for the Games.
Before the Games began Australia’s para-athletes were set to not receive any medal bonus, unlike the Olympic athletes, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday that the Government would fund the Paralympians for their success as well.
Paralympics Australia states it does not have the resources to fund medal bonuses because all its available funding is spent on getting athletes to the Games and providing equipment, development programs, education, coaching and technological and innovation support to future Paralympians.
Chief Executive Officer Lynne Anderson says the organisation has fought hard for equity in funding and that the Government, Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport have been supportive, but that the medal bonus decision heralds a more inclusive future.
“Our Paralympians absolutely deserve equity across the board, including recognition and respect,” she says.
“This is such an incredible reward for our successful Tokyo Games medallists.
“They have all told stories of the importance of valuing inclusion and equity for people with a disability in sport and society in their post-event interviews.
“To see equal medal recognition with their Olympic counterparts become a reality demonstrates tangible proof of what they are advocating for and real hope for a more inclusive future.”
Mr Morrison says the decision recognises the effort Paralympians put in to represent their country at the Games.
“Australia’s para-athletes have represented our nation with great distinction and pride in Tokyo, delivering performances that have buoyed millions during what is a difficult time for the nation,” he says.
“Like their Olympic counterparts, Paralympians often have to make major sacrifices in their lives, forgoing family and work to train and compete nationally and internationally.”
The announcement of medal funding also involves a commitment from Mr Morrison to increase sponsorship of para-sports, which do not traditionally receive as much corporate sponsorship as Olympic sports.
“The Morrison Government is committed to working with Paralympics Australia and other national sporting bodies to grow corporate sponsorship for para-sports,” Mr Morrison says.
“This additional commercial revenue could ensure Paralympics Australia can sustainably make medal bonus payments to athletes at future Paralympics.”
The medal bonus means Paralympics Australia is on an equal footing with countries leading the way for recognition of athletes’ achievements, however in some countries the amount is still below what Olympians receive or there is no payment at all.
US Paralympians are being paid the same medal payments as Olympians for the first time in Tokyo, while Canada has no medal funding for Paralympians.
Japan has medal bonuses for both Paralympians and Olympians, but they are tens of thousands of dollars lower for para-athletes.
More medals are awarded at the Paralympics than the Olympics, but across both athletes who win more than one medal are only eligible for one medal payment, for the highest of their medals.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and recognition of Australia’s competitors has coincided with the launch of a worldwide movement to recognise people with disability, known as #WeThe15.
Athletes and other advocates from countries around the world are part of the movement to end discrimination against people with disability, who make up 15 percent of the global population.
The movement has a plan for the next decade to “build greater knowledge of the barriers and discrimination persons with disabilities face” and “break down these barriers so all persons with disabilities can fulfil their potential and be active and visible members of an inclusive society”.
#WeThe15 will have a dedicated segment in the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics on Sunday and then continue to share the message; “disability is humanity, not an abnormality”.