How much is an Olympic gold medal really worth?
If you climb the top step of the dais after years of toil on the training track and 5am starts, no doubt you would say it is priceless.
Melted down, the 6g of pure gold plating and 550g of silver would cost about $900, based on current metals prices.
But if your idea of getting into the Olympic spirit is calling in sick for a fortnight and buying yourself a new 60-inch plasma, then the 13 gold medals Australia won in Beijing four years ago cost taxpayers $17 million each.
This figure does not include the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure, State government funding and sponsorship dollars.
“The biggest problem with this number ($17 million) is it is so rubbery,” Dr Connor told The West Australian
The actual cost has to be two, three, four, five times higher. You can’t have an Olympic swimmer, for example, without 50m pools spread throughout the country.”
A study presented ahead of the 2000 Games in Sydney estimated the price tag of $40 million for each of the 25 gold medals our athletes won between 1980 and 1996. This period is notable because it takes in the explosion in sports funding following the creation of the AIS, set up in the wake of Australia’s poor performance at the 1976 games, where we won just five medals, none of them gold.
Academics in other countries have done similar calculations.
Great Britain’s 16 gold cost almost $19 million each while China’s golds in Athens cost a staggering $100 million each.
$40 million: it’s how much each gold medal costs us (August 2008)
Dr James Connor writes:
How much support — financial, medical, coaching, training — would you need to reach the pinnacle of your profession? If you are an athlete in Australia, then about $40 million. That is a conservative estimate of what each Olympic gold medal in the last 20 years has cost Australian taxpayers.