Just How Much is An Asian Games Gold Medal worth?

By Kristel Oh

The Games officially starts tomorrow & while we watch Asia’s top athletes across all 45 Asiad countries fight for glory, many a time we wonder, how much exactly is a Gold Medal worth?

(Photo Credits: Asian Games 2014 Incheon)


In terms of weight in gold, not so. Just so you know, at the last Asiad, the gold medals were made of sterling silver with only it’s coating in pure gold. We are not too sure what the exact price of gold is but one thing’s for sure, it can’t be that much.

However, cash incentives by each country’s government are often worth much more than that.


Different countries have different standards with some being more generous than others but one thing we can conclude from our research is that while a majority of the countries do provide incentives for their athletes, some countries don’t.


Let’s start with the stingiest country

Bucking the trend, Japan may be one of the richest countries participating in the Games but despite their financial power and world-class athletes (they finished third in the last edition), they have not in the last two editions offered any financial rewards to their athletes.


The happiest country in the world Bhutan also doesn’t pay much for a gold medal with $728 (35,000BTN), $520 (25,000BTN) & $416 ($20,000BTN) paid out for a gold, silver and bronze respectively. I mean, it makes sense from the government’s perspective. Why would they need so much money when they are already so happy right.


Moving on to the rest of Asia… Let’s start with the most generous, Singapore of course!

Well, by now everyone should be aware that the Singapore government gives out very generous financial rewards to athletes who do well at the Games. In fact, not only are we Asia’s most generous country with regards to our reward schemes for the Asiad, we are also the most generous country when it comes to Olympic payouts. Well, we’ve got to be no.1 at everything right?


Rewards for medals at this year’s Asian Games have already been confirmed and although the incentive has been reduced compared to the last edition in Guangzhou, individual gold medalists will get $200,000 while silver and bronze medalists will be rewarded with $100,000 & $50,000 respectively. For team events, a sum of $320,000 will be awarded for a gold with $160,000 & $80,000 for the silver and bronze respectively.


Our close competitors in the business world, Hong Kong comes in second with slightly over $130,000 ($800,000HKD) paid out in the last edition to each gold medal-winning athlete.


Our neighbors in the SEA region also pay relatively well for medals at the Games.

Payout levels for Indonesia are $42,600 (400,000,000IDR) for a gold,  $21,300 (200,000,000) for a silver & $5325 (50,000,000) for a bronze respectively. On top of that, most states within the country also provide additional incentives for athletes from their state. Philippines though not one of the richest countries pays relatively well too with $39,000 ($30,000) paid out for each gold medal at the Games. 

Our direct neighbors Malaysia provide rewards of  $32,000 (80,000rm) for a Gold, $16,000 (40,000rm) & $8,000 (20,000rm) for a silver and bronze respectively.  Cambodia pays $12,400 (40,000,000 riels) for a gold, $7433 (24,000,000 riels) for a silver & $5574 ( 18,000,000 riels) for a bronze. No exact figures are available for Thailand at the current moment but it has just been announced that for this year’s edition the Thailand football team will stand to pocket a mind boggling $2,100,000 (US$1,700,000) should they grab a gold medal at the Games so we are  assuming that they are pretty generous as well with regards to their individual golds.


Moving on to the 2010 Asian Games Overall Champion & powerhouse, China. Chinese athletes also paid relatively well there considering the amount gold medalist the country creates. Chinese athletes are expected to receive from their government approximately $10,294 (50,000 Yuan) for each gold medal they win and on average an additional $10294 (50,000 Yuan) from the state they from.


Interestingly, last edition’s second runner up does things slightly differently. Apart from paying a one time bonus, gold medal athletes also get a monthly stipend and for the males, exemption from compulsory national service.


Now that we know that most countries do provide attractive rewards for the Games, the stakes are raised. Each move they make will make a difference in their pocket as well. For the rest of us ordinary people, let’s just seat back and watch the games roll!

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