Monthly Archives: August 2012

Norway is Winning in the Olympic Medal Count*


In these 2012 summer Olympics, thus far China is beating USA 30 to 29 in the Olympic medal count, right?

Maybe, but context is everything. Consider that China is a country of 1.344 billion people, which equates a pool of 44.8 million Chinese citizens to win each medal. Whereas the USA is a country of 311 million people, which equates to a pool of only 10.7 million US citizens per medal. With that context, it requires 4.2 times as many Chinese citizens than US citizens to win a medal. Not to say that the US or her athletes are 4.2 times better, but surely the size of the population must have some bearing on how successful any given country performs at the Olympics.

With this population-per-medal metric, let’s take a look at what country’s performance is most impressive. It only took 2.4 million Norwegian citizens to win their two medals thus far, and this isn’t even the winter Olympics. (Norway won 23 medals in winter 2010. And, they won nine in the last summer games in 2008.)

And, in case your interested in the other end of the spectrum, it has taken India’s 1,184 billion citizens to win their one medal this far. (India won only three medals in the full 2008 summer games, and didn’t win any in 2010 winter games.)
Perhaps this is academic, but I am tired of looking at the plethora of Olympics coverage and just a simple medal count without further context and am honestly surprised that nobody has found this angle. Your thoughts?