Monday, July 30, 2012

The Olympics Per Capita: Opening Ceremony

Hey, it’s a year that is divisible by four, which means it’s time to once again celebrate the great international festival of people living together in harmony, and esoteric sport!  Especially fencing, although that may just be a local thing.


Longtime readers may recall that the 2008 Games were dominated by the Bahamas, whose two medals amounted to every 153,725th citizen being an Olympic medalist, well ahead of the rest of the global field.  Jamaica was impressive in second with a medal for every 254,939 people, and Iceland took the proverbial bronze, taking a medal despite a national population of only 304,367.

Slovenia’s five medals gave it a medal for every 401,542 citizens.  Also very impressive were Australia, with a medal for every 447,839, New Zealand (1/463,718), Norway (1/464,446), and Cuba (1/475,998).

Infinite Art Tournament’s home country of the United States of America finished a discouraging 46th, with each medal having to be shared among 2.7 million people.  The world’s two giants fared even worse, with India at 87th (1/382,700,000) and China at 68th (1/13,000,000) despite a home-field advantage.

Well, it will be a while before the data starts trickling in.  But assuming an even level of athletic prowess among the nations – and why, indeed, would we ever assume otherwise? – here is roughly what we should be looking at for medal counts when the closing ceremonies come around:

China – 175 medals
India – 157 medals
United States – 40 medals
Indonesia – 30 medals
Brazil – 25 medals
Pakistan – 23 medals
Nigeria – 21 medals
Bangladesh – 20 medals
Russia – 18 medals
Japan – 16 medals
Mexico – 15 medals
Philippines – 12 medals
Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Germany – 11 medals
Iran and Turkey – 10 medals
D. R. Congo and Thailand – 9 medals
France, the U.K., and Italy – 8 medals
South Africa – 7 medals
Burma – 6 medals

…with another 225 or so medals sprinkled among 200ish other countries.

We’ll be checking in on the progress of this Olympian endeavor over the next few weeks.  Best of luck to the Bahamas as it strives to defend its title as world’s studliest country.   We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Aussies as well, as they attempt once again to dominate the elite club of the 100 largest countries.  Australia’s population should be able to claim three medals, all other things being equal.  In 2008 they snuck off with 48.  Crikey!  And, can Most Favored Nation Estonia improve on 2008’s 13th place finish?  We’ll find out soon! 


Yankee in England said...

I AM SO EXCITED. Just yesterday I was wondering when/if there would be per capita Olympic post and am so pleased to see there will be. Excuse me while I go do my statistics nerdy dork dance.

Michael5000 said...

Has there been much talk about the Olympics where you live, Yank?

Yankee in England said...

No not much,having to really try hard to find it on television and gee golly the closet event is taking place 3 miles from me 3 MILES however am I going to find a way to enjoy the Olympics.

Jenners said...

I am watching the US win one of the medals to be shared among the millions right now (Men's Diving ... Bronze). I need to move to the Bahamas to get more time with a medal.

Rebel said...

I demand a recount!!

As much as I can appreciate alternative ways of looking at the medal count for the Olympics, (Michael Phelps has just tied India for all time medal count) I think this might be missing the mark a bit. I've noticed that there are a lot of team sports where each country can only put one team in the event, thus the possibility of only winning one medal, of any type, regardless of how many medal-capable athletes the country may have. China, it could be argued, would completely sweep the synchronized diving medals if they were allowed to have three or more teams. Similarly, the US could probably put up a handful of Olympic-level Basket Ball teams and pick up an extra medal or two.

While these rules, obviously, apply to all countries, big and small, they clearly serve to limit the advantage of having a huge population.

It would be interesting to count up what the total number of possible medals a given country could win, and then basing your estimates on that number. The accomplishments of the mighty Bahamas would still be extremely impressive. But perhaps you wouldn't be quite as disappointed in China & India. (America, I am proud to say, is holding her own at the moment!!)

And yes, I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this!