Olympic prize money will divide athletes - Redgrave

James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent of Great Britain celebrate winning gold the Men's Coxless Four Rowing Final on 23rd September 2000 during the XXVII Olympic Summer Games at the Sydney International Regatta in Penrith,
Sir Steve Redgrave (second left) is the fourth-most decorated British Olympian [Getty Images]

Five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave has warned that paying prize money to athletics gold medallists at Paris 2024 will create "an us and them situation" between sports.

World Athletics announced in April it would offer prize money at this summer’s Games - the first sport in Olympic history to do so.

The winners in the 48 disciplines will each receive 50,000 US dollars (£39,400).

Prize money will be paid to all three track and field medallists at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.

Redgrave, who won rowing gold medals at five successive Olympic games between 1984 and 2000, said: "All those gold medallists in athletics are capable of earning significant money before and certainly after Paris so you’re giving money to people who already have it.

"It becomes an us and them situation. I did OK – although I made more money from retirement than I ever did in rowing – but I’m against it."

Redgrave added he would prefer if "that money" was distributed "to other sports".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not award prize money but distributes funding through international federations (IF) and national Olympic committees (NOC).

Some national Olympic committees offer financial rewards to their medallists, though the British Olympic Association does not.

Rowing 'fighting for survival'

Redgrave also warned that rowing "only survives internationally because of the money the international federation gets from competing at the Olympics".

He added: "If that’s ever taken away our sport will die."

Rowing has featured at every Games since 1900, with women’s events introduced at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

It was set to appear in the inaugural Games in Athens in 1896, although poor weather forced the rowing events to be cancelled.

"You can argue whether we are relevant in today’s world, but we are a founder sport of the Olympics and I think we are [relevant]," added Redgrave.

"But there is debate over that if you are just going to support the media-friendly sports."