So Who Won the Olympics? -

So Who Won the Olympics?


Officially, the Olympics are a competition between individual athletes, not countries. But given that they wear national colours, compete under national banners, and play national anthems for the winners, it is worth asking: Which country won?

Over at the NY Times, their medal tally has the USA on top with 110 medals, followed by China with 100. The anti-Americans at the CBC rank by gold medals, and so have China on top with 51, followed by USA with 36.

So who won? It depends on the value you assign to each medal. The CBC’s ranking by Gold medals alone effectively gives G-S-B a value of 1-0-0. The Times treats each medal equally, thus valuing them at 1-1-1.

Other possibilities are to rank G-S-B at 3-2-1, or 5-3-1. On the former valuation, China wins by a single Gold — 223-220. At 5-3-1, China wins more comfortably, 346 to 330.

So, only if all medals are created equal do the Americans come out on top.

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So Who Won the Olympics?

  1. The best way to settle this debate is to have a vote on the methodology. China wins – 1.3 billion vs. 300 million.

    Clearly, each broadcaster/media will use the numbers that best indulge their audience.

    The CBC, while using the 1-0-0 ranking in the Beijing Olympics, had, at one point, a podium graphic where they compared the performance of the Canadian teams over the last three Olympics: Beijing, Athens, and Sydney.

    While each had three gold medals (meaning using their existing methodology there is no improvement in standing) they ranked TOTAL medals giving Beijing the Gold, Syndey the Silver, and Athens the Bronze (or vie versa on the last two – I’m too lazy to check).

    How convenient

  2. What about medal count ranked on a per capita basis? Then China doesn’t look so hot – but Australia did amazing!

  3. Le Monde, interstingly, does not use the 1-1-1 methodology that would catapult the French team from 10th to 7th.

    And of course on TOTAL medals, Canada would finish 15th rather than 19th.

  4. What about medal count ranked on a per capita basis?

    Only truly valid if each country is not capped by the number of people it can send to the Olympics, and there is a finite number of spots open, worldwide.

    I saw some folks running heats in the 100 m. that were worse times than what I ran in high school oh so many years ago- and I was maybe in the top quarter of competitors then in regional meets.

    “In lane four, representing Turducken, Dot.”

  5. Did Canada beat U.S. in the medals per capita count?

  6. The CEO of the US Olympic Committee made a comment that “the US atheletes went home with the most medal on their necks, if that is the way you want to count it.”

    So Wall Street Journal actually calculated, literally, the number of medals brought home. So the mens basketball team alone brought like 24 gold. Haha….

    I guess you can count it any way you want just by changing the definitions. I mean… they didnt invade Iraq, they liberated Iraq. =)

  7. In total medals AND total golds, USA won. Each member of the USA’s many winning teams are bringing home a gold medal so the USA’s total gold tally is 125. Counting teams, China only got 74. Shouldn’t team events carry more weight than individual?