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Indonesia to give Olympic medallists cash for life

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JAKARTA: Indonesia promised large cash payments and generous lifetime pensions to their Olympic athletes if they make the podium, in a bid to boost their medal count in Rio.

The sports and youth ministry said Thursday athletes who win gold at the Rio Games in August will be granted a one-off payment of 5 billion Indonesian rupiah (USD$377,500) and a lifetime pension of around $1,500 a month.

Athletes who win silver and bronze will also be rewarded, albeit with lesser payments of around $150,000 and $75,000 respectively, plus a smaller pension.

The cash prize for gold is five times the amount promised to athletes in past Olympic meets, while pensions have been added for the first time to sweeten the deal.

Minimum wages in the capital Jakarta are around $235 per month, but in remote provinces many still live on less than $2 per day. At the London Olympics in 2012, Indonesia, a country of 255 million, failed to clinch a single gold medal for the first time in more than two decades.

The ministry hopes the cash incentives will spur a better result at the upcoming Games, where Indonesia is still a minnow compared to regional heavyweights like China.

“This is to motivate athletes to dream big. Don’t do it half-heartedly, aim for the Olympics,” ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told AFP.

Past athletes also won’t miss out, with the government promising to backpay the pension to medallists in past Olympic and Paralympic meets.

Indonesia first participated in the Olympics in 1952, but was forced to wait until South Korea in 1988 before it won any medals. Since then it has won 27 individual and team medals in badminton, weightlifting and archery.

President Joko Widodo this week encouraged his nation’s athletes to strive for a podium finish, saying he hoped to hear the Indonesian national anthem thundering around Rio Di Janeiro when the Games got underway on August 5.

 

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