The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday said it has proposed raising the prize money for winners of gold medals in the 2014 Olympic Games to NT$20 million (US$679,000) to encourage more athletes to pursue better performances.
The call to amend the Regulations Governing the Issuance of Guo Guang Athletic Medals and Scholarships (國光體育獎章及獎助學金頒發辦法) arose following the nation’s entry into the quarter-final in the World Baseball Classic this year, its best performance since 2006.
However, each of the baseball players on the team were only eligble to receive prize money after the ministry treated it as a special case, because existing regulations did not reward players participating in the World Baseball Classic
Many professional athletes, including golf player Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) and tennis player Lu Yen-hsun (盧彥勳), have also excelled in international tournaments, but the regulation only recognizes non-professional athletes, the ministry said.
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said that the regulation would still apply mainly to athletes competing in non-professional sports events.
However, he said that the proposed change to the regulations would give the ministry some flexibility in handling special cases, such as the World Baseball Classic.
Based on the ministry’s proposed amendment to the regulations, the prize money for Olympics gold medal winners would increase by NT$12 million per person to NT$20 million.
Athletes would also be able to choose to receive monthly payments of NT$125,000.
In the future, players taking part in the World Baseball Classic would also be rewarded if they perform exceedingly well.
“We decided to propose a raise in the prize money awarded to Olympic gold medalists because it is indeed a hard-earned honor. The regulations have been designed to only reward non-professional athletes, but there are always changes in the significance of sports games. So we want to be flexible and design a mechanism that takes into account the significance of the game in question,” he said.
Chiang said that athletes should be rewarded when they do well, adding that the ministry should also assist the athletes in planning for their lives after retirement.