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Olympics 2016: How Did We Really Do?

At the link, you will find the overall Olympic medal count for the top 10 countries.

  1. United States  121      population     323,730
  2. China                  70                             1.364 Billion
  3. Great Britain    67                               65,167,667
  4. Russia                 56                               143, 423, 920
  5. Germany            42                               81, 197, 537
  6. France                 42                               64, 705, 829
  7. Japan                   41                               126,287,851
  8. Australia            29                              24,355,714
  9. Italy                     28                              59,801,485
  10. Canada                22                              36,333, 594

Every time the Olympic Games are held, the media covering the Games make a fuss about the achievement of Canadian athletes.  The totals for all of the medals won are published for each country, particularly in the top ten strata, but we don’t publish the population for each country, which might suggest a very different assessment.

China, with a population of more than 1 billion people, won 70 medals which should give people pause to observe, that for a country with so many people, they should have been able to field enough top athletes to win every medal.  Think of it as a mathematical relationship; the ratio of medals won to population.

Great Britain won 67 medals with a population of just 65 million people from which to cull their best athletes.  That is a greater achievement than China.

Australia won 29 medals, 7 more than Canada,  with 10 million fewer people from which to identify, select, and train top athletes.

The medal totals for each county alone don’t reveal much about the state of athletics in each county.  Make them a ratio of the population and the rankings might look quite different and suggest that some countries are not producing the number of athletes that their pool of talent might permit.

There are reasons for this.  Not every country makes the same financial commitment to produce athletes and not every country emphasises the same sports or possesses the same level of coaching expertise.

The goal of the Olympic Movement is [a commitment] to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

We don’t embrace this mantra as much as we think we do.  It’s the day after the Summer Olympics, time that Canadians stopped congratulating ourselves.

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

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