Russia Trebles Medal Bonuses

The Russian Olympic Committee has more than trebled bonuses for athletes who win medals at next month's Beijing Games.

Since the 1996 games in Atlanta, the ROC has awarded $50,000 to gold-medal winners, but will splash out 100,000 euros, or close to $160,000, to Russia's Olympic champions at the Beijing games.

Bonuses for silver and bronze medals will increase more than fourfold, to 60,000 and 40,000 euros, respectively, from $20,000 and $10,000.

"The Russian government must still approve the proposal, but it should be done in the next few days as everything has already been agreed," ROC spokesman Gennady Shvets said Tuesday.

"I think it's a fair reflection of the much higher cost of living nowadays compared to a decade ago," he said.

"For example, in 1996, you could buy an apartment in Moscow for $50,000. Now, that would not be enough for a good car. So we had to adjust our bonuses accordingly."

In addition to official bonuses, all Russian Olympic medal winners will receive large cash bonuses from various sports funds and private sponsors like energy giant Gazprom.

Local governments also reward medalists from their respective regions, giving them free apartments, cars and cash, meaning that the total reward for a gold medal performance may be in the region of $500,000.