CAITLIN BASSETT: Ariarne Titmus’ family say they will spend $20,000 to go to Paris Olympics

Caitlin Bassett
The Nightly
Ariarne Titmus’ family claims it will cost them around $20,000 to watch their daughter defend her titles in Paris.
Ariarne Titmus’ family claims it will cost them around $20,000 to watch their daughter defend her titles in Paris. Credit: Getty Images

COVID stopped families from supporting Olympic athletes in Tokyo and cost looks like doing the same in Paris.

After years of funding their child’s sporting pursuits, families are now being slugged with huge bills, with athletes to receive no free tickets for family or friends to the Games next month.

Athletes who have multiple qualifiers before the final are at a disadvantage as the bill runs into the tens of thousands to watch every event for their loved ones.

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During my netball career we were not allocated free tickets for major events like the Commonwealth Games or World Cups.

At the 2015 World Cup in Sydney we played eight games in total — five pool games and three finals — and the morning of the gold medal match we were emailed an invoice for the tickets across the tournament with one of my teammates facing a $5000 bill.

Swimming superstar and Olympic gold medallist Ariarne Titmus’ family has come out publicly and claimed it will cost them around $20,000 to watch their daughter defend her titles in Paris.

With 37 events (18 each for men and women and one mixed event), tickets to the swimming are hot commodities, with spectators expected to pay $370 for heats, $1110 for semi finals and a whopping $1600 for the final.

Titmus will compete in three individual events — the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle — however due to the popularity of the sport and limited seating in the stadium her family will not be able to watch all her races pool-side.

Imagine flying halfway across the world to watch your loved one compete on the TV instead of being inside the stadium.

Swimming isn’t the only expensive sport to watch either, with Australian water polo player Matilda Kearns sharing her frustration on social media when she discovered the cost of a ticket for her family to watch her compete.

The Aussie Stingers have four preliminary rounds followed by three finals, with each tickets to each match getting more expensive on the way to a gold medal.

But tickets are just one part of the equation, with flights, accommodation and food all adding to the tally.

In Paris, accommodation prices have been drastically inflated, which means families are being forced to fork out the equivalent of a house deposit to stay for the duration of the games.

Sam McDonald, mother of Olympic boxer Tyla, got in early and considers herself lucky after organising an apartment in advance 15 minutes from the boxing venue for $19,000.

Being responsible for putting your loved ones under financial stress only adds to the pressure of performing. You want to make sure the result is worth the huge bill, or even that a gold medal might reap some financial rewards which can be used to help with the costs.

Paris 2024 organisers expect to generate almost $2.3 billion in ticket sales, which is almost a third of the $7 billion they hope to make from the Games overall.

The Australian Olympic Committee funds athletes through Medal Incentive Funding, however it does not give money to retiring athletes even if they finish on the podium. Seen as a dangling carrot to keep the top performers interested in their sport, payments for gold ($20000), silver ($15000) and bronze ($10000) are made for each year they continue in the lead up to the next Olympic Games.

Track and field athletes will be guaranteed a pay day with World Athletics announcing it would pay $75000 for a gold medal in Paris and would look to extend the payments to silver and bronze at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Despite being the pinnacle event for most sports, the Olympics is still technically an amateur competition and while billions of dollars will be made off their performances, almost none of it will flow down to the athletes.

Athletes are left hoping the prestige of winning an Olympic medal will translate into a sizeable sponsorship deal.

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