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Paralympians are now paid the same as Olympians for winning medals

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Equal pay has come to the Paralympics. 

Paralympians and their Olympic counterparts are now being paid the same amount of money for winning medals, thanks to a rule that went into effect in Sept. 2018. The Tokyo Games is the first Olympics that has taken place since the rule was passed, though it was retroactively applied to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” United States Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said back in 2018 when the rule change was announced. 

“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."

The decision to make medal pay equal for the Olympics and Paralympics was just one part of a movement to recognize the Paralympics on the same level as the Olympics. The USOC changed its name to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in 2019.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 13:  (L-R) Silver medalist Amanda McGrory of United States, gold medalist Tatyana McFadden of United States and bronze medalist Chelsea McClammer of United States pose on the podium at the medal ceremony for men's Club Throw - F32 during day 6 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on September 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images)
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is the first since the US Olympic Committee passed a rule making medal payouts equal for Olympians and Paralympians. (Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images)

How much less were Paralympians paid before the rule?

According to the New York Times in 2019, Paralympians were paid $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver, and $3,750 for bronze. The decision to equalize medal pay increased the payouts for Paralympians by as much as 400 percent.

Now Paralympians are earning $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

Athletes like Oksana Masters, an 8-time Paralympic medalist in cross country skiing and rowing, celebrated the decision as "life changing," as it finally demonstrated that Paralympic athletes are equal to Olympic athletes.

The Paralympics will begin Aug. 25 and finish Sept. 5. 

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