Singapore tops world in Olympic gold medal cash payout

Feng's bronze medal will earn her S$250,000 under the MAP scheme. (Reuters photo)
Feng's bronze medal will earn her S$250,000 under the MAP scheme. (Reuters photo)

If there's a medal for the highest cash payout for winning an Olympic gold, Singapore would top the charts.

According to a story by broadcaster CNBC, it said Italy was the most generous with a S$225,000 (USD 182,400) payout for gold, followed by Russia with S$167,000.

France rounded up the top 3 with an S$80,000 payout.

In contrast, US gold medal winners only pocket $31,000 for gold, S$18,000 for silver and S$12,000 for bronze.

However, the CNBC story obviously did not include Singapore.

Under the Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP), Olympic gold medal champions in individual events stand to win S$ 1 million, S$500,000 for silver and S$250,000.

For example, Feng Tianwei's bronze medal victory in the women's single of the table-tennis will earn her a quarter of a million dollars.

However, she has to plough a mandatory 20 per cent back into the National Sports Association for future training and development.

Although there is no definitive list of cash incentives paid out for Olympic gold, a quick check online reveals that other South-east Asian countries can also be pretty generous.

Singapore's closest neighbour, Malaysia, have the second biggest offer -- one million ringgit, or almost S$400,000 for a gold.

Both Singapore and Malaysia have never won the gold medal at the Olympics.

The Philippines is third with S$380,000.

In contrast, gold medal athletes from traditional Olympic heavyweights receive significantly less.

Chinese-language Sports Weekly reported that gold medlalists at the last Beijing Olympics received just US$51,000, or 350,000 yuan.

Japan is more generous, paying its top medalists US$100,000, a similar amount to Russia's $135,000 reward

Athletes from host-country Britain will have to contend with just pats on their back and basking in the glow of doing their country proud -- British cyclist Bradley Wiggins, and rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, all of whom won gold, will receive nothing.

Still, countries like the USA, Britain, and Japan have thriving sports industries which fight to offer gold medallists sponsorships worth millions - - far more than the cash they receive for winning.

It's been reported that Michael Phelps' endorsement with Nike is worth a reported US$50 million.

Over in Malaysia, badminton star Lee Chong Wei -- who narrowly lost to Lin Dan in Sunday's gold medal final -- stood to win 2 million Malaysian ringgit in cash or S$800,000 if he had brought him the country's first-ever gold, according to Malaysian daily The Star.

RM 1 million would have been from the Government through the National Sports Council's (NSC) incentive scheme and another RM 1 million cash from local furniture company 3V Holdings Sdn Bhd.

He would also have won a 12.5kg gold bar worth RM2mil offered by gold mine owner and KL Racquet Club Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Andrew Kam as well as a lifetime monthly pension of RM5,000 under the NSC scheme.

For his silver medal win from the 2008 Beijing Games, Lee was awarded a Datukship by the Penang government, RM300,000 cash and a RM3,000 monthly lifetime pension, as well as two cars from Proton.

Top 10 countries with highest payouts for an Olympic gold medal

1. Singapore — S$1,000,000

2. Malaysia — S$400,000

3. Philippines - S$423,300 (according to 2008 figures)

4. Thailand - S$372,600 (according to 2008 figures)

5. United Arab Emirates - S$337,800

6 Italy - S$226,500

7 Russia - S$167,650

8 Japan - S$124,200

9 Bulgaria - S$95,100 (according to 2008 figures)

10 France - S$81,000