The emotional rewards associated with the honor of representing your country at the Olympics are unimaginable. However, the recent announcement by athletes such as Roger Federer, Serena Willaims, Ben Simmons and Nick Kyrgios to officially withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics made me think about the potential financial gains or sacrifices in Kyrgios’ particular case.
What is it really worth for an athlete to attend the Olympics? How does winning a medal change their ability to market themselves? And most importantly, should professional sports – such as football, golf and tennis which already generate significant income and profit – really should be part of the Olympic Games?
When I think of athletes around the world who have experienced notable financial success, I can almost always see a direct link between their success “on the court” and their business acumen “off the court”.
Take Federer for example. The latest statistics show he is ranked the seventh richest athlete in the world. This despite being out of service for much of the past year with a knee injury. In fact, 100% of the $ 90 million in Fed profits in the 12 months leading up to May 21 (according to Forbes) came from sponsorship deals with brands like Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo.
So when you think of the national and global profile opportunities that an event like the Olympics offers to athletes, there is certainly more than a medal and national pride at stake.
In fact, when I think of Australian athletes who have competed in the Olympics or won medals, the impact on their business success and financial weight, or on their ability to sell their personal brand, is astronomical.
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Make no mistake, the sheer joy of winning a medal after years of hard work and hard work is the main focus. But it would be folly to suggest athletes like competition and not realize what winning a gold medal could mean commercially for them.
That said, the Olympics does not make it easy to market athletes during the Games due to the protection of official Olympic sponsors. They relaxed some of those rules, but further relaxation would help amateur athletes reap financial benefits from the event, which for most of them is their key exposure period which takes place every four years (s ‘they have the chance to participate in several Olympic Games).
Considering that until the last decades the Olympics were only open to amateur athletes – that’s why we didn’t have a “Dream Team” until 1992 because there were only players. basketball courts until then – then it really raises the question of why is professional sport part of the Olympics?
Do we want to see the best of the best or the best of others; non-professionals? Should we reserve this exhibition opportunity for athletes who live for this opportunity as their main event? Also, where is the line drawn? Field hockey players play professionally in Europe on a modest income – should they be allowed to compete?
It’s complicated, but I wonder why, after all this time waiting for the Games to actually take place, we are all disappointed when “big name” athletes pull out on the eve of the Games. And should we even consider them?
** Matthew Pavlich is a Nine sports presenter and co-founder of Pickstar