Which Countries Award the Highest Olympic Medal Bonus?
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Which Countries Award the Highest Olympic Medal Bonus?

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Top Olympic Medal Bonuses

The Briefing

  • The IOC doesn’t pay athletes anything, but some home countries award handsome medal bonuses for winners
  • Singapore shells out SGD$1 million ($737K) for its gold medalists—nearly 20 times what the U.S. pays for the same achievement

Which Countries Award the Highest Olympic Medal Bonus?

For many of the world’s top athletes, simply representing their country at the Olympic Games is considered an honor.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) partly reinforces this, as it doesn’t pay its participating sportspeople anything.

But for those athletes going for the gold, silver, and bronze, the sweet sense of achievement that comes with winning a medal is sometimes accompanied by a big check—though these prizes don’t come from the IOC either.

The Winners Take It All

For placing at the podium and bringing home a medal, some countries promise their athletes significant bonuses—shooting as high as a six-figure range. For winning a gold medal, athletes from Singapore can earn up to SGD$1 million, or about $737,000.

This reward is nearly 20 times the $37,500 that U.S. athletes pocket for the same achievement. However, the immense difference in payout makes sense if you consider what’s at stake. The U.S. typically dominates the leaderboard every year, and sheer numbers are a big part of this.

At Tokyo 2020, Singapore only had 23 athletes representing the city-state across 12 events. In comparison, the U.S. brought along the biggest contingent of 657 athletes participating in 44 events.

Here are the 12 countries that boast largest monetary bonuses per medal:

CountryGoldSilverBronze
🇸🇬 Singapore$737,000$369,000$184,000
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan$250,000$150,000$75,000
🇲🇾 Malaysia$236,000$71,000$24,000
🇮🇹 Italy$213,000$107,000$71,000
🇵🇭 The Philippines$200,000$99,000$40,000
🇭🇺 Hungary$168,000$126,000$96,000
🇧🇷 Brazil$49,000$29,000$20,000
🇯🇵 Japan$45,000$18,000$9,000
🇺🇸 U.S.$37,500$22,500$15,000
🇿🇦 South Africa$37,000$19,000$7,000
🇨🇦 Canada$16,000$12,000$8,000
🇦🇺 Australia$15,000$11,000$7,000

Correction: Another country that recently announced it would pay its athletes handsomely is Indonesia—a 5 billion rupiah cash reward translates into $349,000 for winning gold.

In several of these countries, these USD-value wins translate to even higher earnings back home. For example, $1 is equivalent to nearly 425 Kazakhstani tenge, or about 50.5 Philippine pesos.

Hidilyn Diaz of The Philippines won her country’s first ever gold medal at Tokyo 2020, in the women’s 55kg weightlifting category. At Rio 2016, she also historically broke a 20-year dry spell for the nation and won a silver medal.

Another way that athletes can gain value from winning a medal is by scoring endorsements with major brands. Often, these deal amounts far surpass any medal bonus—U.S. gymnast Simon Biles earns at least $5 million annually from sponsorships alone.

Some Strings Attached

Why do countries award such big medal bonuses? When a country’s athletics are not driven by the private sector, and instead funded by the government, these monetary rewards help to encourage a stronger sports culture.

In addition, the prize money is taxable in many cases—reinvesting the money into respective countries’ sports associations, and effectively giving back to the community.

Where does this data come from?

Source: CNBC
Notes: All figures are in USD unless otherwise noted.

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Chart: 30 Years of Wildfires in America

Here’s a look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.

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Wildfires in America

The Briefing

  • An average of 70,000 wildfires blaze through the U.S. each year
  • These fires destroy approximately 5.8 million acres of land on a yearly basis
  • Over 43,000 fires have started across the U.S., burning 5 million acres of land as of Sept 3, 2021

30 Years of Wildfires in America

This summer, record-breaking droughts and relentless heat waves have fueled disastrous wildfires across the United States. It’s gotten so bad, the state of California has decided to shut down all national forests for two weeks to stop the spread.

But how disastrous has this year been compared to previous years? This graphic gives a historical look at the number of wildfires in America that have occurred each year since 1990, and the acres of forest land scorched during that period.

Total Wildland Fires and Acres from 1990 to 2020

In the U.S., an average of 70,000 wildfires burn through 5.8 million acres of land each year. But some years have been worse than others.

Year# of Fires# of Acres Burned
199066,4814,621,621
199175,7542,953,578
199287,3942,069,929
199358,8101,797,574
199479,1074,073,579
199582,2341,840,546
199696,3636,065,998
199766,1962,856,959
199881,0431,329,704
199992,4875,626,093
200092,2507,393,493
200184,0793,570,911
200273,4577,184,712
200363,6293,960,842
200465,461*8,097,880
200566,7538,689,389
200696,3859,873,745
200785,7059,328,045
200878,9795,292,468
200978,7925,921,786
201071,9713,422,724
201174,1268,711,367
201267,7749,326,238
201347,5794,319,546
201463,3123,595,613
201568,15110,125,149
201667,7435,509,995
201771,49910,026,086
201858,0838,767,492
201950,4774,664,364
202058,95010,122,336
2021*43,2505,024,744

*note: 2021 figures as of September 3, 2021

One particularly bad year was 2006, which had over 96,000 fires and destroyed 9.9 million acres of land across the country. It was the year of the Esperanza Fire in California, which burned 40,000 acres and cost $9 million in damages.

2015 was also a devastating year, with over 10.1 million acres destroyed across the country–the worst year on record, in terms of acres burned.

Climate Change’s Role in Wildfires

Wildfires are only expected to worsen in the near future since warmer temperatures and drier climates allow the fires to grow quickly and intensely.

We’re already starting to see climate change impact the wildfire season. For instance, autumn is usually peak wildfire season for California, but this year, one of the largest fires on record started in mid-July, and is still burning as of the date of publication.

Editor’s note, September 20, 2021: In the post above, we said that California closed downed down all national parks for two weeks, starting August 31st. In fact, they closed down all national forests.

Where does this data come from?

Source: National Interagency Fire Center
Details: 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina.

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Visualizing the Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season

While the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to late November, about 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.

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The Briefing

  • Storms are categorized by their wind speed. Any storm with winds stronger than 111 miles per hour (mph) is considered a major hurricane
  • This year’s Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest hurricanes on record to hit the U.S. mainland, with winds reaching up to 150 mph

Explained: The Typical Atlantic Hurricane Season

On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida hurled into the state of Louisiana at rapid speed. With winds of 150 mph, preliminary reports believe it’s the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland.

As research shows, Hurricane Ida’s impact hit right at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Here’s a brief explainer on the basics of hurricanes, how storms are classified, and what a typical storm season looks like in the Atlantic Basin.

Let’s dive in.

Classifying a Storm

Hurricanes are intense tropical storms that are classified by their wind speed. What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone? They’re essentially the same thing, but are named differently based on their location:

  • Hurricane is used for storms that formed in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific (impacting countries like the U.S.)
  • Typhoon is used for storms in the Northwest Pacific (impacting countries like Japan)
  • Tropical Cyclone is used for storms in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean (impacting countries like Fiji and India)

Since we’re focusing on the Atlantic, we’ll be using the term hurricane and/or storm throughout the rest of this article.

A storm needs to reach a certain wind speed before it gets classified as a hurricane. Storms with wind speeds of:

  • <73 mph are considered Tropical Storms
  • 74-110 mph winds are considered Hurricanes
  • 111 mph+ winds are considered Major Hurricanes

Breaking Down the Atlantic Hurricane Season

Generally, Hurricanes form in the warm ocean waters in the central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, following westward trade winds and curving up towards the North American mainland. Hurricanes are formed when these specific elements come into play:

  • A pre-existing weather disturbance such as a tropical wave
  • Water at least 80ºF (27ºC) with a depth of at least 50 meters
  • Thunderstorm activity
  • Low wind shear (too much wind can remove the heat and moisture hurricanes use for fuel)

The Atlantic hurricane season technically lasts six months, beginning on June 1st and ending in late November. However, 85% of activity happens between August, September, and October.

Each subregion in the Atlantic has its own unique climatology, which means peak seasons can vary from place to place—for example, south Florida sees the most hurricanes in October, while the entire Atlantic Basin’s peak season is early-to-mid September.

Climate Change and Hurricanes

According to the Center of Climate Change and Energy Solutions, it’s unclear whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes per year.

However, research indicates that warmer weather and high ocean temperatures will most likely lead to more intense storms, ultimately causing more damage and devastation.

» Want to learn more about climate change? Here’s an article on The Paris Agreement: Is The World’s Climate Action Plan on Track?

Where does this data come from?

Source:Brian McNoldy, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

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