For the second consecutive Winter Olympics, Norway has won the most medals of any competing nation, racking up 37 over the past two weeks in Beijing. The country also led the way with 16 gold medals, out of the 109 available in the 15 sports at the Games.
But Norway are tied last among the 91 delegations when it comes to another type of gold.
Although Norway provides stipends to athletes to cover their training expenses, it does not offer any financial incentives specifically for medal performance. Dozens of other countries, however, in some cases, offer six-figure bonuses to each medalist. And of the 31 countries and territories whose medal compensation plans Forbes was able to confirm – 18 of which won at least one medal in Beijing – that no delegation gives more than Italy, which has to pay $2.7 million for its 17 medals.
Italian Olympians are eligible to receive approximately $201,000 from the country’s National Olympic Committee for a gold medal, $101,000 for silver and $67,000 for bronze. This program is even more generous because, unlike many other countries, Italy offers the same award to athletes competing individually and athletes competing as part of a team. earned $604,000. And unlike some other countries, Italy continues to pay out bonuses regardless of how many medals an athlete has won. Thus, snowboarder Omar Visintin receives $168,000 for his silver and his bronze.
Above all, Italy stands out because the other 11 delegations Forbes can offer six-figure gains for a single medal – Hong Kong, Turkey, Malaysia, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Kosovo, Estonia and the Czech Republic – have won seven medals in Beijing. Most countries as successful as Italy grant more modest bonuses. For example, Team USA pays out $37,500 to gold medalists, $22,500 to silver medalists, and $15,000 to bronze medalists, whether they competed individually or as a team. That puts him on the hook for nearly $1.6 million in bonus money for his 25 medals in Beijing. Taxpayers can rest easy, however: The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which created the incentives, gets its funding from a nonprofit foundation, not the government.
Italy actually racked up an even bigger bill last year at the Tokyo Olympics, shelling out more than $9 million for its 40 medals. (The Summer Games had more than three times as many medals available, with 339 events.) But there’s a downside for Italian medalists: They have to pay tax on their bonuses, while all medalists from Denmark and Romania, to name just two countries – would get tax-free rewards.
Forbes ran figures from 18 countries who revealed details of their compensation plans and won at least one medal in Beijing; here is how much each must pay, according to formulas which in some cases are simple and in others quite complex. Depending on the country, the amount may be paid by the national Olympic committee or the government, or a combination of both.
The amounts shown reflect the exchange rate as of January 28. China and Russia – Olympic powers that have won 15 and 32 medals respectively in Beijing – are said to have paid medalists at previous Games, but were among delegations that did not respond to requests for comment on their plans for those. Winter Olympics.