Pair of Senators reintroduce equal pay bill for athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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A pair of Senators are again trying to pass a bill that would guarantee Team USA athletes receive equal pay and benefits while competing on an international stage.

The move, spearheaded by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), comes just ahead of the Tokyo Olympics — which are due to start on July 23.

“When American athletes compete on the world stage, they represent our great nation, our people, and our values,” Capito said in a statement. “It is only right that the women competing for the United States in global athletic competitions receive the same kind of pay and benefits as their male counterparts. This is an issue we can address together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, and I’m proud to join Senator Cantwell in introducing this legislation.”

Equal Pay for Team USA Act reintroduced

Both Capito and Cantwell introduced the bill first in 2019, though it was never passed.

The bill would require all athletes representing the country in international competitions receive equal compensation, benefits, medical care, travel and reimbursement regardless of gender. It will apply to national governing bodies for 50 different sports, and force the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to report on compliance.

“All Americans are proud to see U.S. athletes represent our country on the world stage, and all Americans should be assured these athletes are being compensated equally,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Anything short of that sends exactly the wrong message across the world and here at home about the American commitment to equality and fairness. It is long past time for us to work together to right this wrong and get this done.”

The United States Women’s National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2019, just months before they won their second straight World Cup and fourth overall. The team argued that it had not been paid enough compared to the United States men’s national team. That lawsuit was dismissed last year, but the USWNT is currently appealing that decision.

The USWNT is set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics next week with an opener against Sweden, the team that knocked them out of the 2016 Games. The men's team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the third straight time. The USMNT last competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and finished in ninth.

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