Bigger gold medal payouts proposed

BRAZILIAN BOUNTY::The Sports Administration has set a goal of winning three golds, two silvers and one bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 4

The government is considering raising the reward for gold medalists in international sports competitions from NT$12 million (US$402,000) to NT$20 million, Sports Administration Director-General Ho Juo-fei (何卓飛) said yesterday

The announcement was made as the agency unveiled a draft white paper on the nation’s sports policies.

In its presentation, the administration said the nation is aiming to garner three golds, two silvers and one bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile, the government also plans to bid to host the 2023 Asian Games.

“We are aiming for golds, so we are hoping to increase the money given to gold medalists,” Ho said. “The rewards for silver, bronze and fourth place would remain unchanged. Because we are raising the reward for gold medal winners, we would have to reduce the awards for those finishing fifth to eighth.”

“Instead of taking away the entire NT$20 million at one time, we hope that the reward could be broken down to become a monthly stipend of NT$120,000 so athletes would not have to worry about their incomes for the rest of their lives,” Ho said.

The white paper says the administration plans to establish an agency to select athletes for the Olympics using scientific methods. It would also devise strategies to win medals and develop four levels of training for athletes.

“If we are to increase the number of golds we win, our athletes must be trained by gold medalists as well. These gold medal-winning coaches are familiar with the latest changes to the rules and can help us avoid making the mistakes we have made in the past,” Ho said. “In the past, we only had one group of sports scientists in charge of all the athletes’ nutrition, psychology and other types of logistics support. If the nation wants a better chance of winning medals in certain sports, such as weightlifting, taekwondo, table tennis and badminton, then that sport needs to have its team of sports scientists.”

While the administration appeared to demonstrate extraordinary efficiency in delivering a white paper within three months of it being established in January, many have questioned whether it can deliver what it promises in the paper.

Currently, the government has a state-funded program to increase the competitiveness of baseball, which is considered the national sport. However, baseball is no longer an Olympic sport.

No similar state-funded programs are available for other sports.

Ho said the government does not favor any particular sport. Aside from key sports, the government would also focus on the development of other sports that market Taiwan to the world, including golf and tennis. He added that both the basketball and soccer associations have plans to increase the number of people actively participating in their respective sports.

Ho said the government would continue to implement the program to develop baseball, following the nation’s performance at the World Baseball Classic this year.

The government would also offer incentives for major corporations to sponsor baseball teams in schools, which would become a new source of top players, he said.