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For 1st time, Paralympian medalists will earn as much as Olympians in Tokyo Games

Paralympic athletes will now receive as much as $37,500 per medal.
USA's players pose after receiving their gold medals after winning the men's wheelchair basketball match against Spain during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 17, 2016.YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

It's official — Paralympian athletes will now earn as much as Olympians.

After the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) board of directors moved to give Paralympic athletes equal payouts for medal performances.

In a statement on their website, the USOC stated that ‘Operation Gold Awards’, a program that provides monetary rewards to athletes who earn medals, for Paralympic athletes would be increased by as much as 400 percent.

While the Tokyo Olympics are the first since the decision was made, 2018 athletes from PyeongChang, where the U.S. Paralympic Team won 36 medals, were paid more than $1.2 million retroactively for their performances.

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change."

Like their Olympic counterparts, Paralympic athletes will now receive $37,500 for each gold medal earned at the Paralympic Games, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

After the decision was made, Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters tweeted, "As I was reading this tears literally were streaming down my face not only bc of the equal pay for @Paralympics medals to @USParalympics athlete but the value and worth of Para athletes finally viewed equal to @Olympics. This is absolutely LIFE changing @TeamUSA thank you."