Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olympic Medal Recount

As the 29th Olympiad athletes head back to their respective homes, they should be proud to have competed in what many claim is the most spectacular games ever. So spectacular even, that there isn't a clear winner of the games. The United States leads the pack with the most overall medals. However, China has the most gold medals. So who is declared the winner?

NBC, the U.S. source for the 2008 Olympics orders the the nations by total medal count. This seems to be true on most other American news outlets. However, on China's official site, they are listed in order of gold medals won. In looking for an unbias list I could not find a ranking on the official Olympic Games site, who does not recognize any official ranking method (although I did find a page from the 1964 Olympics that had a similar outcome). I eventually found one over at the British Times (a country that would rank 4th no matter how you count) who ranks China first with the most gold medals. And it would seem even Google agrees that China is on top. It seems only France is willing to take the high ground and use the gold standard, even though it actually hurts their standings. But when declaring the winner, should silver and bronze medals count for nothing? Instead, I suggest we place an appropriate value on each medal and then tally the entire score (3 for gold, 2 for silver, 1 for bronze). Here's my medal count:

Gold + Silver + Bronze = Total OR Value Total
China: 51 + 21 + 28 = 100 OR 223
USA: 36 + 38 + 36 = 110 OR 220
Russia: 23 + 21 + 28 = 72 OR 139

So it seems China is still the victor. Nonetheless, American athletes should be proud of their performance individually and their ability to add to the United States incredible all time Olympic medal count. I must say that I have enjoyed these Olympic Games more than any other in my life. It was exciting to see the competition in swimming, track, and beach volleyball (which I think has become my new favorite Olympic sport). It was also encouraging to see what the Chinese people were able to accomplish thanks to the liberalization of their society. These athletes all over the world have shown us the ability of man to be Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin Olympic motto for "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

Update: Another possible way to award the winner of the Olympics is to hold population constant and give it to the Netherlands.


  1. I liked this guy's analysis:

    Go Australia!

  2. Two other things:

    Beach volleyball is so incredibly boring.

    I didn't see a whole lot of liberalization from China, personally.

  3. I definitely agree with that guy that population distorts Olympic success, but his model is some simple it's useless. Where did he get his medal values from?

    Liberalization of China, few examples:
    1) Entry into the World Trade Organization
    2) 70% of Chinese say people are better off in a free market economy
    3) Chinese government allows "protest pens" at Olympics (better than it was in 1989)

    Dude, beach volleyball rocks.

  4. I vote Netherlands!!!

  5. My sister is not bias I'm sure, ha ha.

    Here is something else to think about: "some Chinese are openly questioning China’s route to Olympic triumph: unfettered investment by a gold-fixated government that controls the careers of athletes."


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.