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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Delayed Olympic Prize Money Finally Released




After waiting almost 18 months for their Nagano Winter Olympic bonuses, Russian athletes can now get their money, the country's top sports official said Monday.


"Now, all our Olympic winners can finally receive their money due," President Vitaly Smirnov of the Russian Olympic Committee said at a news conference.


The Winter Olympians who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 1998 Games in Japan were promised $50,000, $20,000 and $10,000 respectively by the government.


The sum, totaling $2,216,000, was deposited at the Russian Bank for Reconstruction and Developmentw.


The bank was then supposed to transfer the money to the athletes. But the financial crisis that hit the country last August forced the government to freeze the RBRD funds after the bank was owed more than $10 million by another Russian bank, Vneshtorgbank.


Smirnov said that while some Olympians were able to withdraw their money before August, others were not as fortunate.


"Most of our athletes who either lived or trained abroad simply couldn't be here in time to receive their money before the funds were frozen," he said.


"It mainly concerned our figure skaters and our female Olympic biathlon champion [Galina Kukleva]."


But after a yearlong court battle, a judge ruled last week in RBRD's favor.


"The athletes can come as early as Wednesday morning and get their money," RBRD president Mikhail Shelkov said.


However, one Olympic winner, ice dance champion Yevgeny Platov, is apparently not that lucky.


"I came to Moscow on Monday just for a day, specifically to get my money," Platov said.


"I paid my own way to get here, taking time off training, and now they tell me to come Wednesday."


Platov, who now lives in the United States, claimed that because of the ruble collapse he can only get some $12,000 out of the original $50,000 bonus.


"I already lost more than two-thirds of my money, so it's basically a do-or-die situation for me," Platov grinned. "I'll probably have to camp out here [at the bank] to get paid."