How to Measure Olympic Performance
Aug 7, 2012
Who really wins Olympics? Does the medal table show the real strength?
At 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, as the Olympic news report, China finished first with 51 gold, 21 silver, and 28 bronze medals. The United States team was second with 36 gold, 38 silver, and 36 bronze medals.
When the medal count is done, the US actually won 10 more medals than China, yet the Chinese were ranked as first. This is because a standard display of a medal table classifies nations first based on the number of gold medals.
This year, at London 2012 Summer Olympics, a nation of Kazakhstan (at the time of writing of this article) is ranked as no. 7 with 6 gold medals (no other medals), while Japan is ranked as no. 15 with 2 gold, 12 silver, and 13 bronze medals (27 in total). By taking a look at the table based on the point system, Kazakhstan has 18 points while Japan 41.
This, indeed, is a fairer classification. So, who won Beijing Olympics? By calculating points, China did slightly better with 223 points, while US was behind with 220.
We can also take a look at Olympic performance based on relative criteria. For example, see how well an nation did based on its population. China with 1.3 billion people won 100 medals, which makes it one Olympic medal for 13 million people.
The United States won 110 medals with 300 million people, which makes it about one Olympic medal per 3 million people. So, based on population, USA did better.
However, Australia with slightly over 20 million people won 46 medals at Beijing, which makes it one medal per less than half a million people. That is great Olympic performance.
As you bet on sports, we hope you’ll enjoy all kinds of statistics, including the ones shown here.