Sunday, February 28, 2010

You can't meddle with the mettle of a metal medal


Final results for the Vancouver Winter Olympics are in. The United States finished first overall with 37 medals, while host Canada took home the most gold with 14. Congratulations to Canada for a great Olympics, and especially for a thrilling finish to the last event: an overtime win over the Americans for the gold in men's hockey.

Out of curiosity, I wondered what the picture would look like if the Summer and Winter Games were held simultaneously. Below are the combined totals for the 2008 Beijing and 2010 Vancouver Olympics. I sorted the results by "weighted" total, which was calculated as follows: three points for a gold medal, two points for silver and one point for bronze.

I consider this to be definitive proof that the United States is the best country for international sports. And that despite the fact that international sports take a backseat in the U.S. to a bunch of games that aren't even included in the Olympics, like American (i.e., real) football and NASCAR.

China deserves kudos for the most gold medals, of course. (Although I should point out that a fair number of those medals came from sports like badminton and table tennis. The advantage this gives them is similar to what Americans would experience if bowling and Donkey Kong were to become Olympic sports.)

Per capita over-achiever Norway also deserves a shout-out, with a top-ten finish despite less than five million inhabitants.

Hands-down, the worst country for international sports is India. Despite a population over a billion (nearly as many people as China, more than 3.7 times the population of the U.S., and more than 240 times that of Norway), India finished the past four years with only three medals: one gold and two bronze.

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total Weighted
United States 45 53 49 147 290
China 56 23 32 111 246
Russia 26 26 35 87 165
Germany 26 23 22 71 146
Great Britain 20 13 15 48 101
Australia 16 16 17 49 97
Canada 17 16 11 44 94
France 9 19 23 51 88
Norway 12 13 8 33 70
South Korea 13 10 8 31 67
Italy 9 11 13 33 62
Kenya 11 11 6 28 61
Japan 9 9 12 30 57
Netherlands 11 6 7 24 52
Ukraine 7 5 15 27 46
Cuba 2 11 11 24 39
Belarus 5 6 11 22 38
Spain 5 10 3 18 38
Austria 4 7 8 19 34
Poland 4 9 3 16 33
Sweden 5 6 5 16 32
Switzerland 8 0 7 15 31
Jamaica 6 3 2 11 26
Brazil 3 4 8 15 25
Czech Republic 5 3 4 12 25
Kazakhstan 2 5 7 14 23
Hungary 3 5 2 10 21
Slovakia 4 3 2 9 20
Romania 4 1 3 8 17
New Zealand 3 1 5 9 16
Ethiopia 4 1 2 7 16
Slovenia 1 4 3 8 14
Turkey 1 4 3 8 14
Finland 1 2 6 9 13
Denmark 2 2 3 7 13
Croatia 0 4 4 8 12
Georgia 3 0 3 6 12
Azerbaijan 1 2 4 7 11
North Korea 2 1 3 6 11
Argentina 2 0 4 6 10
Uzbekistan 1 2 3 6 10
Latvia 1 3 1 5 10
Mongolia 2 2 0 4 10
Thailand 2 2 0 4 10
Zimbabwe 1 3 0 4 9
Bulgaria 1 1 3 5 8
Indonesia 1 1 3 5 8
Lithuania 0 2 3 5 7
Mexico 2 0 1 3 7
Estonia 1 2 0 3 7
Armenia 0 0 6 6 6
Greece 0 2 2 4 6
Nigeria 0 1 3 4 5
India 1 0 2 3 5
Belgium 1 1 0 2 5
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2 5
Portugal 1 1 0 2 5
Taiwan 0 0 4 4 4
Ireland 0 1 2 3 4
Serbia 0 1 2 3 4
Iran 1 0 1 2 4
Trinidad and Tobago 0 2 0 2 4
Algeria 0 1 1 2 3
Bahamas 0 1 1 2 3
Colombia 0 1 1 2 3
Kyrgyzstan 0 1 1 2 3
Morocco 0 1 1 2 3
Tajikistan 0 1 1 2 3
Bahrain 1 0 0 1 3
Cameroon 1 0 0 1 3
Panama 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisia 1 0 0 1 3
Chile 0 1 0 1 2
Ecuador 0 1 0 1 2
Iceland 0 1 0 1 2
Malaysia 0 1 0 1 2
Singapore 0 1 0 1 2
South Africa 0 1 0 1 2
Sudan 0 1 0 1 2
Vietnam 0 1 0 1 2
Afghanistan 0 0 1 1 1
Egypt 0 0 1 1 1
Israel 0 0 1 1 1
Mauritius 0 0 1 1 1
Moldova 0 0 1 1 1
Togo 0 0 1 1 1
Venezuela 0 0 1 1 1

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