Tokyo Olympics

Sports minister confirms Schoenmaker, Buitendag Olympic medal bonuses

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Tatjana Schoenmaker (Getty)
Tatjana Schoenmaker (Getty)

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa confirmed on Tuesday that Olympic and Paralympic medallists would receive bonuses, amounts of which were yet to be determined.

Mthethwa released a statement after public uproar erupted following City Press' report that there were no funds allocated to pay bonuses to Tokyo medallists Tatjana Schoenmaker (gold and silver) and Bianca Buitendag (silver).

The minister said the payment scale would be guided by the 2016 Rio Games bonuses paid out, where Team South Africa came back with 10 Summer Olympics medals.

In Tokyo, however, SA could only manage the three.

READ | Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa congratulates Springboks on Lions series triumph

However, top 10 finishers with the potential to do well in future Games would also be rewarded for their endeavours.

Sprinter Akani Simbine finished fourth in his 100m final, narrowly missing out on a medal despite going to Japan as the in-form athlete.

"Any podium position at the Olympic Games by an athlete is no mean feat considering that more than 11 090 athletes compete to be crowned with a medal out of 339 on offer.  It is therefore befitting for the country to recognise and honour outstanding and exceptional performances at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Mthethwa's press release.

"Guided by the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP) the Ministry recognises and rewards outstanding performances by athletes on a regular basis. The contribution of coaches who are critical to the success of our athletes is also recognised when their athletes perform exceptionally well, flying the South African flag high on the world stage. In the media briefing #ForTheRecord on 5 August 2021, Minister Mthethwa announced that our medalists from both the Olympic and Paralympic Games would be rewarded. The quantum of the rewards would be in keeping with the well-established norms and standards from the previous Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"In addition to the National Lotteries Commission support to Team South Africa, the Department has also provided R7.4m towards team preparations for those teams who ranked top 10 and those athletes with the potential to win medals. Amongst those, was gold medalist, Tatjana Schoemaker.

"The Olympic Games may have come to an end but Tokyo 2020 has not ended with the Paralympic Games set to commence on 24 August 2021. The final announcements on the rewards for our medalists for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games would therefore be made after the close of Paralympic Games on 5 September 2021.

"As for the overall performance of the Olympics team, the Department will have a post-mortem meeting with SASCOC, especially because it is SASCOC’s task to coordinate the team, including the selection process."

In 2016, Sascoc paid gold medallists R500 000 in incentive bonuses, R250 000 for silver, and R100 000 for bronze medallists, including a portion for their coaches.

The sports ministry topped that up with R100 000 for gold, R70 000 for silver and R50 000 for bronze medals, with 400m sprinter Wayde van Niekerk getting an added R50 000 for breaking the world record.

Schoenmaker won silver in the 100m breaststroke before claiming gold and a new world record in the 200m breaststroke.

Buitendag finished second in the women's surfing, shocking many favourites en route to her silver medal.

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