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Medal tally by world population
August 24, 2004 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Alternative Olympic medal tally from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ranking countries by population per gold medal. (Updated daily for the duration of the games.)
posted by mr.marx (59 comments total)

 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics comes up with a different way to look at the medal tally, and we're still not first. Asleep at the wheel or what?
posted by krisjohn at 10:01 PM on August 24, 2004 [1 favorite]


This is good.
posted by ericost at 10:08 PM on August 24, 2004


Per capita medals won since 1948, however, puts Liechtenstein squarely on top, and Australia in 14th place.
posted by Ljubljana at 10:12 PM on August 24, 2004


I understand the motivation to say that countries that have a smaller population to draw upon should be weighted higher.

But to make it even fairer, you should further divide by some economic measure like GNP to take into account that poorer countries have less resources to discover, develop and train their athletes. The US would be nowhere near the top of this list but then I bet neither would Australia.
posted by vacapinta at 10:13 PM on August 24, 2004


Only on MetaFilter do you see stuff like this...

Anything to make the US look bad!! Whatever it takes, let's take the U.S. out first place!
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 10:22 PM on August 24, 2004


How about that India? One stinkin' medal for a billion people to share.
posted by smackfu at 10:27 PM on August 24, 2004


I would like to see a chart that ties gold medal wins to funding of amateur athletes, if only to see Canada removed from the bottom of these Olympic ranking charts.

I remember hearing in National Post's Saturday Night of the Cuban defectors of the '99 Pan American games who complained that they were worse off here than in Cuba, as they had to work at Wendy's to have money to live off of.
posted by sleslie at 10:36 PM on August 24, 2004


Anything to make the US look bad!! Whatever it takes, let's take the U.S. out first place!

I know I shouldn't, but I'll bite: the reason why this is interesting is because there is more than one way to look at things. It's not about dissin' america, it's about viewing things from alternate angles for the fun of it. Per capita. Per GNP. Based on median age of the population. These are all interesting ways for geeks to view dataporn.
posted by mathowie at 10:43 PM on August 24, 2004


Yeah, and we have the freakin' biggest of everything in the Southern Hemisphere too. I'm so proud to be Australian! Jesus. (Have you seen the rest of the Southern Hemisphere? We're more important than Easter Island, whoo.)
posted by rdc at 10:45 PM on August 24, 2004


Yeah I think this is a more accurate way of ranking the countries than just gross totals (example).

Australians are justified in gloating, I feel Australia is the clearly most dominate country at these olympics, though they are cheating a bit by ranking the countries by 'gold medals' per captita instead of 'total medals' per capita, though countries like the Bahamas and Estonia are statistical flukes due to they're relatively small populations.
posted by bobo123 at 11:11 PM on August 24, 2004


Anything to make the US look bad!! Whatever it takes, let's take the U.S. out first place!

Not that the US haven't been helping to do this with their revealing efforts in (insert male team sport here). Christ, Australia beat Japan in the baseball - we're doing your job for you!

I like some of the stats Roy and HG come up with each night on The Dream (warning: most pathetic website ever). Number of medals won...by countries with less than 30 million people! If Australia had the population of the US...we would have 167 gold! The Commonwealth Games has a good medal tally to look at too. :)
posted by Jimbob at 11:12 PM on August 24, 2004


Neat. So if the US can get to a better ratio than the Bahamas does that mean we win that too?

How many more medals is that?
posted by fenriq at 11:14 PM on August 24, 2004


>Anything to make the US look bad!!

Makes China look pretty bad too and before 9/11 they were our de facto state enemy. They're still run by the communist party no less! Some conspiracy theory. Not to mention in 1980, 60 countries led by the US pulled out of the Olympics held in Moscow over the invasion of Afghanistan. There was no similar outcry over the WMD-less and explosion ridden Iraq.

If anything this Olympics has been very apolitical (dare I say pro-American too) and the Greeks did a pretty good job, considering how all the experts and commentators were busy telling us what a horrible mess it would be.

Anyway, I was thinking of doing the same calculations because I was curious as to how much of a predictable lottery the olympics are when you consider its just a resource pool, thus bigger and richer countries must win and if they don't there's probably an interesting reason why. Also, I'm still curious to know if events added to the olympics in the last 20 or so years help Westerners out more than the rest of the world or if there was an agreeable list of difficult "core events" which cuts out some of the newer and sillier events.
posted by skallas at 11:19 PM on August 24, 2004


I've wondered why India does so badly at the games. Why isn't Cricket a sport in the olympics? Are they worried about scheduling a bunch of games that take several days to finish each?
posted by mathowie at 11:24 PM on August 24, 2004


I've wondered why India does so badly at the games.

Yeah, but have you seen the GDP-vs-medals ranking? India would be... well, not quite at the bottom, in any case.
posted by DaShiv at 11:33 PM on August 24, 2004


The reason why everyone wants to remove the US from top spot is obvious: the rest of the world hates your freedom.
posted by Quartermass at 11:36 PM on August 24, 2004


I think it would be more interesting to see a ranking of countries by medals per team member rather than medals per capita. After all, at least part of the reason why large and/or wealthy countries win more medals is that they tend to have bigger teams. But, while, for example, the US has 1000 times more people than the Bahamas, it doesn't have 1000 times more athletes on its team.
posted by epimorph at 12:46 AM on August 25, 2004


Australia's been doing that for years: the medal-per-population thing. It's always had that feeling of "We're just a small country but we love our sports and we're good at it". But I suppose we really shouldn't do that any more, since Australia is outright 4th on the official medal tally now, which just absolutely drops my jaw.

I'm sure if they analysed how much money the Australian government spends per capita on winning gold medals, we'd be at the top of that tally. We spend an extraordinary amount of dough on earning those medals. But my taxpaying ass doesn't mind a bit, I enjoy the patriotism and pomp of the Games anyway.

Sidenote: Jimbob, the best Roy & HG medal tally was "Medals Scored By the Axis Of Evil" at the 2000 Olympics. Nil all!
posted by chronic sublime at 1:09 AM on August 25, 2004


Only on MetaFilter do you see stuff like this...

Anything to make the US look bad!! Whatever it takes, let's take the U.S. out first place!


I think we should ban Mr.Marx from posting, the evil Swedish Communist
posted by ZippityBuddha at 2:03 AM on August 25, 2004


wait, Marx was Swedish?
posted by matteo at 2:36 AM on August 25, 2004



I'd like to know the number of non-USA medallists who have lived and studied and trained in the USA for a length of time.

I've got a feeling a lot of foreign athletes are simply competing under a "flag of convenience". The USA seems very generous in that respect, college scholarships not withstanding.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:08 AM on August 25, 2004


...cricket in the Olympics...
Or kabbadi.
posted by asok at 3:16 AM on August 25, 2004


Why does Mexico seem to be so rotten at sports too?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:37 AM on August 25, 2004


There has been talk of cricket and rugby in the Olympics, particularly if London wins the 2012 race. One of the problems for holding a cricket comp in a non cricket playing country would not be the length of the game (20/20 cricket lasts about as long as a baseball game) but preparing pitches. Using artificial or matting strips would be useless for top level matches and it's difficult to create a good pitch without constant, specialist attention over a period of years.
posted by johnny novak at 3:41 AM on August 25, 2004



it's difficult to create a good pitch without constant, specialist attention over a period of years.

Not so. "Drop-in pitches" have been around for a while.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:50 AM on August 25, 2004


Makes China look pretty bad too and before 9/11 they were our de facto state enemy...

If by enemy you mean Most Favored Nation status for many many years, then yes, the US hates China.
posted by Dagobert at 4:03 AM on August 25, 2004


"it's about viewing things from alternate angles for the fun of it. Per capita. Per GNP. Based on median age of the population. These are all interesting ways for geeks to view dataporn."

A Gini coefficient medal table would be interesting.
posted by raaka at 4:08 AM on August 25, 2004


IIRC Cuba came top of the medals v GNP table at the last olympics.

And speaking of communist countries it's interesting how the Australian approach to sport in some ways mirrors that of the former Eastern Bloc - we are greater than you think because we are good at sports.
posted by i_cola at 4:27 AM on August 25, 2004


(warning: self-link) Back during the '02 games, I did a very haphazard analysis of medals on a per-capita basis, as well as medals per-land area, and medals per-GDP. Norway kicked some world-wide butt, no matter how you slice it!
posted by davidmsc at 4:55 AM on August 25, 2004


Not so. "Drop-in pitches" have been around for a while.

They're not exactly unequivocably proven to be a good thing though. New Zealand have used them a lot, and they've all seemed to be unpredictable, wickedly-seaming greentops by the time the match is played. When India played in NZ a year or two back all the matches ended inside 3 days.
posted by bifter at 4:57 AM on August 25, 2004


I want to see gold medals by race and religion. Just like the medal count tells you which country is the best, I want to find out what race and religion is the best. (I'm willing to convert when I find out, too.)
posted by sexymofo at 5:01 AM on August 25, 2004


Well, catholics are the best at football. Except for England and Germany (and Germany actually has a Catholic majority, but not by much), every other nation to win the world cup is a catholic nation. (It also helps if your country is run by a right wing military dictatorship).
posted by ZippityBuddha at 5:14 AM on August 25, 2004


it's about viewing things from alternate angles for the fun of it.

Yeah, for most people it's just a bit of a laugh, but when you've heard Bruce McAvaney telling you how every single Australian athlete has broken some record or other because they're the

"first-single-mother-from-the-southern-hemisphere-to-qualify-twelth-in-their-heat -and-then-subsequently-place-in-the-top-five-of-the-finals-for-this-event-since-1982"

you start to realise that some Australians have a bit of a mental block about accepting that we aren't the world champions in any given sport, even if it's lacrosse or something.

And Jimbob, you weren't kidding about that website. Christ, what's the point?
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:15 AM on August 25, 2004


At least Australia is still ahead of Canada. Anyone see OReilly's opinion on this?

The entitlement culture is a force that destroys self-discipline and motivation. -OReilly, talking about why the US dominates and countries like Australia is doing better than Canada.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:26 AM on August 25, 2004


What uncanny hengeman said. But also: Please, take baseball and softball out of the Olympics--what a disgrace!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:31 AM on August 25, 2004


Christ, Australia beat Japan in the baseball - we're doing your job for you!

I'd guess that all of Japan's top players were busy playing with their pro teams.
posted by crank at 5:39 AM on August 25, 2004


I'd guess that all of Japan's top players were busy playing with their pro teams.

My point exactly - that's just the kind of piss-weak excuse Australians are going to ignore (providing the result is in our favour).
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:50 AM on August 25, 2004


The entitlement culture is a force that destroys self-discipline and motivation.

No.

My sister was a figure skater who had some success at National competitions here in Canada, and I've found that the money it takes to become good enough to compete is a HUGE strain on a middle class income. She's professional right now, but I'd say that getting her there was fairly close to not happening.

If my parents were cattle farmers, and the mad cow thing hit us when she was an amateur skater, I don't think she'd be skating no matter how good she was.
posted by sleslie at 5:58 AM on August 25, 2004


I'd guess that all of Japan's top players were busy playing with their pro teams.

Nope, the Japanese players are pros, they co-opted the name 'dream team' from the US basketball team and promptly came in third.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:05 AM on August 25, 2004


I hear they have their maps upside down in Australia, too.
posted by crunchland at 6:09 AM on August 25, 2004


crunchland - Far from it. Everyone else's are upside down, we're just humouring you.
posted by backOfYourMind at 6:16 AM on August 25, 2004


I did a quick and dirty little study of medal winning countries ranked by performance based on GDP *and* population, and the top 5 performers were Australia, Russia, Romania, the Netherlands and South Korea (in terms of the number of medals they've won over what should be expected), or Belarus, Slovenia, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Bulgaria (in terms of the percentage by which they exceeded expectations). Not sure what it means anyways when everything is decided by 1/100 of a second. Having the most athletes that qualify for finals should count for a lot more than it does.
posted by loquax at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2004


i don't know about the medal thing, but i can tell you that watching the games on CBC is far preferable to watching it on my local NBC affiliate. for one thing, CBC actually shows things at a time other than 8 PM. by the time a result is televised on NBC, i've already finished watching it (and the resulting commentary) on CBC.

aside from the (perfectly understandable) pro-canadian bias, the reporting is much better too. for example, in judged competitions it's nice to see not only the total score, but which judges gave what score, something the american coverage used to include in past years but has recently dropped for some reason.

plus the canadians all seem so happy and proud to be canadians. sure the americans are proud too, but we also tend to get a little too arrogant and self-important, something the canadians seem to avoid.

hum. makes me want to move farther north. guess i'll wait 'til november to make the final decision on whether i ought to fill out that citizenship application...
posted by caution live frogs at 6:32 AM on August 25, 2004


drop in pitches are almost never used in international games. When they have the results have been poor.
posted by johnny novak at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2004


And just how many athletes representing "other" countries live, eat, sleep and train in the United States? How many have dual citizenship and are just jumping ship because they aren't good enough for the U.S. team?

Rescore based on this criteria, and I'd think more than half of all the medals belong to the U.S.

Rah-rah
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2004


The ECB lead the drive for Olympic recognition of cricket, a sport which has featured once before, with Great Britain taking gold and France! taking silver.
posted by johnny novak at 7:59 AM on August 25, 2004


Cricket can't become an Olympic sport because not enough Americans know how to play it and there's a reasonably good chance that some other country would win the gold.

But I would love to see it, cricket's a fabulous game!
posted by fenriq at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2004


Here's a prettier GDP and population adjusted medal tally from buggery.org
posted by squant at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2004


squant, that can't be right, the US is even further down the list now!

But I do like that they include the loser medals, Silver and Bronze.
posted by fenriq at 9:14 AM on August 25, 2004


backOfYourMind: some Australians have a bit of a mental block about accepting that we aren't the world champions in any given sport

Cricket? World Cup '03?
posted by Gyan at 11:51 AM on August 25, 2004


At least Australia is still ahead of Canada. Anyone see OReilly's opinion on this?

The entitlement culture is a force that destroys self-discipline and motivation. -OReilly, talking about why the US dominates and countries like Australia is doing better than Canada.


Odd argument, considering the Australia government is spending so much on athletes while Canadian athletes have to get by with less hand outs.

And the Canada vs. Australia thing is a little unfair since it excludes the winter olympics, that's more Canada's thing (17 medals in 2002 compared to Australia's 2).
posted by bobo123 at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2004


Jesus, Paul's team medal tally is illuminating. With a fraction of the population, Australia sent more athletes than England or France.

Meanwhile in Aboriginal communities - "For all age groups below 75 years the age-specific death rate for persons identified as Indigenous in the selected jurisdictions was at least double that for the total Australian population. The largest differences occurred at ages 35-54 years where the Indigenous death rates in the selected jurisdictions were five times those of the total Australian population."

I'm so fucking glad my government is pissing taxpayer's money away like this, I could vomit.
posted by rdc at 4:40 PM on August 25, 2004


bifter: They're not exactly unequivocably proven to be a good thing though. New Zealand have used them a lot, and they've all seemed to be unpredictable, wickedly-seaming greentops by the time the match is played. When India played in NZ a year or two back all the matches ended inside 3 days.

johnny novak: drop in pitches are almost never used in international games. When they have the results have been poor.

If (very big if) cricket made it to the Olympics, I’d bet my left nut it wouldn’t be the five-day version, so I’m not really trying to justify their worth in that format. Drop-in pitches are fine for one-day internationals, surely? Well, at least the AUSTRALIAN ones. Bloody horse-strayl-ya, mate!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:27 PM on August 25, 2004


Let's keep indulging in the medal silliness.

Right now, the US has 25 gold medals, 76 total. Not bad. China has 24 gold, 52 total. Good job.

But who's the real sports superpower, with 61 gold medals and 217 medals so far?

The European Union, that's who.

Good old Europe even has over three times (254 medals) the US total if you define a "geographical EU" with future members Romania and Bulgaria, along with Croatia, Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland. Time to get off your butts and start working out, America!

In other news, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia together have more medals than any country. CCCP still rules!
posted by Turtle at 6:43 PM on August 25, 2004


An very good explantion from a New Zealand pro why drop-in pitches suck, even in one day internationals.
The idea has been around since Kerry Packer's World Series, it sucked then and it still sucks now.
posted by johnny novak at 1:03 AM on August 26, 2004



Bah!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:35 AM on August 26, 2004


I know I shouldn't, but I'll bite: the reason why this is interesting is because there is more than one way to look at things. It's not about dissin' america, it's about viewing things from alternate angles for the fun of it. Per capita. Per GNP. Based on median age of the population. These are all interesting ways for geeks to view dataporn.

A little late with the response but what I posted was only half tongue-in-cheek, I think it's funny how some people will do anything to knock the U.S. but I also found the charts interesting.

PS: My sister is a professional snowboarder and a 2006 Olympic hopeful so hopefully that will be one more gold medal for the US!
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 1:21 PM on August 27, 2004


Dammit, I'm still waiting for my chart that re-tally's the count based on where the athletes live, eat, sleep and train. I bet half those medalists use U.S. facilities to train, and spend most of their lives on U.S. soil. But come time for the Olympics, it's all "Oooh, my father was from Uganda, so I'm going to run for Uganda." Bullshit, man. Just like European football. The Danish team should not have Manchester United players on it (for example).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:27 PM on August 27, 2004


Just like European football. The Danish team should not have Manchester United players on it (for example)

What? Why the fuck not? They are still Danish, you know.
posted by ZippityBuddha at 1:21 PM on August 28, 2004


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