Russia to pay lavish bonuses for medals in Beijing

MOSCOW Thu May 29, 2008 1:00pm EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Leading businessmen have promised more than $14 million in bonuses to Russia's medal winners at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The Olympic Fund, backed by 10 of Russia's richest men including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, pledged to distribute 340 million roubles ($14.42 million) among its gold, silver and bronze medalists.

"We paid out more than 110 million roubles to the medalists of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin," fund chairman Alexander Katushev told the All Sport news agency.

"Now the total sum will be around 340 million roubles. We haven't decided yet on the exact amount for each sport."

The Russian Olympic Committee will also pay an additional $50,000, $30,000 and $20,000 respectively for every gold, silver and bronze medal.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; editing by Tony Jimenez)

(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at blogs.reuters.com/china)

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