Sports ministry and Sascoc confirm Tokyo Olympics medallists will receive bonuses

Olympics gold medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker with sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and her Rocco Meiring on 02 August 2021 at OR Tambo International Airport.
Olympics gold medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker with sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and her Rocco Meiring on 02 August 2021 at OR Tambo International Airport.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackapagePix

Olympic medallists Tatjana Schoenmaker and Bianca Buitendag will be smiling all the way to the bank after the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the sports ministry confirmed that the two would be handsomely rewarded financially.

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said on Tuesday that contrary to recent media reports‚ athletes who have won medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics will receive financial incentives.

Swimmer Schoenmaker and Buitendag won their silvers on the same day on day seven of the Games before the former triumphed in the 200m breaststroke for Team SA’s first gold medal a few days later.

Sascoc vice-president Lwandile Simelane and sports minister Nathi Mthethwa were non-committal last week when asked about the financial rewards for Olympic medallists.

The seeming hesitancy led to reports at the weekend suggesting that the Olympic medallists were not going to get bonuses‚ as it has always been the case with previous Games. But Hendricks said reports claiming that Sascoc would not be rewarding Schoenmaker and Buitendag due to lack of funds were wide off the mark.

“We have been consistent in saying that we are in negotiations with partners over the issue of financial rewards to medallists at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics‚” said Hendricks.

The Sascoc president said the amounts have not been finalised but added that‚ despite the media reports‚ there has never been a point whereby a decision was made to not offer the medallists with incentives.

Hendricks said Sascoc did not want the issue of financial incentives to distract from the performances of the athletes at both Games.

“We are now between the Olympics and the Paralympics and we believe that we should be consistent in our treatment of athletes.

“So‚ we didn’t want to say‚ ‘yes‚ we are offering incentives for the athletes and the incentives are x‚ y and z.

“All along we wanted the athletes to concentrate on their performances without distraction.

“Both the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are being held in unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We will be rewarding medallists and the amount for each medallist will be announced in due course once we have finalised negotiations with our partners‚” said Hendricks.

In 2016‚ after the Rio Games‚ Sascoc had approximately R4m in the kitty for its medal incentive programme which was shared by the 10 medallists.

Sascoc handed out a cool R500‚000 for gold‚ R250‚000 for silver and R100‚000 for bronze. The coaches of each podium finisher were also awarded under then sports minister Fikile Mbalula.

Vusimusi Mkhize‚ director general in the department of sports‚ arts and culture‚ also confirmed there will be incentives for athletes.

“The incentives will only be for the medallists for now as they are the people who have showed South Africa’s potential in terms of successful achievement at the Olympics and we do need to appreciate their work.

“Their performances will serve as an inspiration to aspirant Olympians and we must also note that it will also include Paralympians whose competition is still coming and bearing in mind that excellence must be rewarded‚” said Mkhize.

The ministry’s director general said the Mthethwa gave financial incentives to the netball national team when they came back from the World Cup. He added that government will do the same with both the Olympians and Paralympians.

“We will not segregate. We will do the same with the athletes who were able to achieve medals at the level of the Olympics‚” said Mkhize.