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On the final Olympic medal count

August 26, 2008

I do have to say I found it a bit funny that the US listed themselves on top of the medal count by giving the total medals won by each country, while the rest of the world (or at least the UK, where I am) showed the count by golds won. But hey, whatever it takes to make the US look good (or bad).

I was thinking about total medal count per capita:

China had 1,321,851,888 potential athletes to pick from
compared to 301,139,947 for America,
141,377,752 for Russia,
and 60,776,238 for the Brits.

(Ok, children are included in these counts, but this is poor man’s stats).

This means that in the search for a champion,
the USA had 1 potential athlete for every 4.39 potential Chinese athletes.
Russia had 1 for every 9.35 potential Chinese athletes,
and the UK had 1 potential athlete for every 21.75 Chinese potential athletes.
So really, the runner-up countries (going by the non-US tallies) did remarkably well!

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 CHN 51 21 28 100
2 USA 36 38 36 110
3 RUS 23 21 28 72
4 GBR 19 13 15 47

Update:
Morejohnmore sent this cool widget, it’s pretty interesting! (see first comment)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. morejamesmore permalink
    August 26, 2008 1:52 pm

    I found this widget that displays who won the 2008 Olympics from different perspectives.
    It displays medals won by total medal count and gold count.
    In addition it can show medals won per million inhabitant and per million dollar GDP.

    I think you might like it:-)
    http://www.youcalc.com/apps/1219403616554?application_popup=1

    It’s free and easy to embed

    A straight medal count isn’t necessarily the most fair:-)

  2. zstitches permalink
    August 27, 2008 6:23 pm

    “Norway plucked 24 medals from merely 4.2 million people for a sterling MPC of 175,861, achieving athletic prowess even while clearly refusing to help overpopulate the Earth, a rare double.” Uh, yeah — and who’s going to pay for their extremely costly and comprehensive social welfare programs? Their 24 medalists?

    The one problem I see with this math is that (as far as I know) the allowed number of athletes per country is not proportional in the first place — if you started on a fair playing field in that sense, then China and the US would have to be allowed to send a huge number of atheletes, or many countries wouldn’t be allowed to play at all.

  3. Lili permalink*
    August 27, 2008 6:24 pm

    Yes Z, I did think of that, too. But they (China) still have a bigger pool of potential athletes to choose from…

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