It seems that some of the athletes competing in the forthcoming Olympics, being held in Athens, will be aiming for more than just the fame and a gold medal.
There are lucrative "lifestyle" awards to be won by the top athletes.
It is reported that even smaller countries, such as Lithuania, will be paying their winners a decent "bung". Each Lithuanian gold medal will earn the winner $125K from the Lithuanian government, and a BMW from the Lithuanian Olympic Committee
Can't be bad!
I thought that the Olympics ideal was a competition between amateurs for nothing more than the glory. Needless to say that ideal collapsed in the 1980's, as people openly admitted to what had been known by the rest of us for years; that athletes were receiving large sums of money, "on the sly".
Therefore, instead of regulating and enforcing the rules prohibiting payments, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) abolished the rule that forbade athletes to receive money.
If only other problems in life were so simply dispensed with!
Needless to say, when there are large sums of money "sloshing about", everyone wants "a piece of the action". Trainers, lackeys, assorted hangers on and the Mafia all expect to receive a cut of the athletes money.
Heaven help the poor athlete who doesn't "divi up". The Kazakh Olympic boxing champion Bekzat Sattarkhanov died in a mysterious car accident on New Year's Eve 2000, after winning gold the Sydney Games. It is speculated that he didn't want to share his prize.
The perversity of the award system is that the small, and poor, countries tend to pay their athletes more than the larger wealthier countries.
The poor old USA athletes have to contend with a meagre $25K if they win gold, and Russian athletes $50K.
Paah! I wouldn't get out of bed for that!
That being said, I have a reasonable suspicion that US and Russian winners will find themselves some very reasonable advertising and sponsorship contracts afterwards.
So let us not shed too many tears for them.