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Which do you think is the fairest way to count medals?

Posted by Lindy on August 22, 2008


The official Olympics medals table is based on the number of gold medals and it puts China top and Great Britain third. But what happens if other factors are taken into account?

Much has been made of the Great Britain team’s lofty position in third place in the official Olympics medals table.

That is based on the number of gold medals, with the number of silver and bronze medals only counting when two countries have the same number of golds.

This system counts against countries like France which, as of 1000 BST on Friday morning, had enjoyed 32 podium finishes but only a handful of wins.

Maybe with this in mind, and half an eye on China, media in the US have been publishing a table of total medals won, regardless of colour, and that puts the US top.

Here are five alternative ways to interpret how countries rank, taking into account gold, silver and bronze, population size, gross domestic product and size of the Olympic team. The medal tallies were counted at 1000 BST on Friday.

TOTAL MEDALS WON

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL

1

United States

100

2

China

83

3

Russia

53

=4

Australia

41

=4

Great Britain

41

=6

France

33

=6

Germany

33

8

South Korea

26

=9

Japan

24

=9

Italy

24

POINTS SCORED (THREE FOR GOLD, TWO FOR SILVER, ONE FOR BRONZE)

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL

1

China

212

2

United States

190

3

Russia

101

4

Great Britain

89

5

Australia

77

6

Germany

67

=7

France

56

=7

South Korea

56

9

Japan

48

10

Italy

45

POPULATION PER MEDAL

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL

1

Bahamas

307,451

2

Jamaica

311,592

3

Slovenia

401,542

4

New Zealand

463,717

5

Australia

502,459

6

Armenia

593,717

7

Belarus

645,717

8

Estonia

653,803

9

Norway

663,499

10

Lithuania

713,041

GDP – BILLION DOLLARS PER MEDAL

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL

1

North Korea

0.36

2

Jamaica

0.53

3

Zimbabwe

0.85

4

Armenia

1.28

5

Georgia

1.29

6

Tajikistan

1.40

7

Krygzstan

1.41

8

Mongolia

1.57

9

Togo

2.21

10

Belarus

2.46

NUMBER OF ATHLETES AT GAMES PER MEDAL WON

RANK

COUNTRY

TOTAL

1

Uzbekistan

2

2

Jamaica

2.95

3

Panama

3

3

Togo

3

5

Zimbabwe

3.25

6

Afghanistan

4

7

Indonesia

4.8

8

Georgia

5.83

9

US

5.95

10

Tajikistan

6.5

Sources include the CIA Factbook and the World Bank.

It comes from the BBC. Here is the link

Also look at the comments –

rraamad has added a link that shows also these different tables in graphs.

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2 Responses to “Which do you think is the fairest way to count medals?”

  1. rraamad said

    this interactive chart widgets illutrates your point sin a nice way: http://www.clearspring.com/widgets/48abc6bc903b61d0 – scary that a nation like North Corea is doing to well …

  2. lindym said

    Thanks for that

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