Hong Kong (CNN)Olympic athletes shed blood, sweat and tears for the chance to go for gold and bring their country pride once every four years.
While many developed countries expect their athletes to compete purely for the glory of victory, smaller nations shower their sportspeople with cash and other incentives in the hopes of spurring the march to medals.
The athlete walking away from Rio with the biggest paycheck for a single gold medal doesn’t even come from an official country.
Taiwanese woman weightlighter Hsu Shu-ching, who competed under the banner of Chinese-Taipei, is being rewarded with $952,000 by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education and the island’s Olympic Committee.
Swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal and also captured the hearts of his adoring countrymen. He also pocketed a cool $746,000, the prize money under Singapore’s National Olympics Council program to reward athletes for medals won at the Olympics, Commonwealth, Asian and South East Asian Games.
He said more incentives have to be provided to encourages their athletes to win medals and help these nations catch up with Western countries.
Despite that, most of these high paying Asian countries don’t have medal tallies as impressive as their prize money.
“Developing Olympics culture and sports culture takes time,” he said, “I anticipate Asian nations will have great success in sports in the near future.”
Enjoy the rewards, but pay your taxes
The medals and bonuses may be worth a fortune, but in some countries the money does not go straight to athletes’ accounts.
American medalists have to pay state and federal taxes on the prize money awarded to them by USOC. Winners of gold and silver medals will also be taxed on the value of the medals themselves — the value of a bronze medal is too negligible to be taxed.
In Singapore, 20% of the cash prize medalists get has to go back to the National Sports Association for training and development.
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