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The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games - China, America, And Russia Won The Most Gold; But The Top Gold-Per-Capita Winners Are Jamaica, Bahrain, And Mongolia

By EDWARD E. AYOUB

Released: 27 August, 2008.
Macroknow Inc. All Rights Reserved.

America refuses to accept defeat in Olympic medal count, wrote Kevin Eason in the TIMES ONLINE. According to Eason:

"The race for the Olympic title is measured in medals . . . The IOC issues its league table based on the number of golds won, which gives China the honours, but then admits that there is no official system in place to decide who is top dog. So the American public is reading tables counting the total number of medals, including silver and bronze, won at the Games. On that measure, the US keep the whip hand over the home nation."1 [My emphasis.]

For big powers, the Olympic "top dog" is the political power with the highest count of medals − gold or total. But for others, the big-power logic is too narrow, too limiting − even groundless.

Why do I say groundless? Well, suppose that both China and Switzerland (a rich small nation), or both the United States and Haiti (a poor small nation) win the same large number of gold medals. Then, can you really conclude that China and Switzerland or the United States and Haiti  are equal Olympic powers? The medal counts are equal, but the Olympic powers float in groundlessness.

DECIDING WHO IS TOP DOG

There are many ways to determine top-dog status. We can rank countries or regions

  1. By medal count
  2. By medal count per capita
  3. By medal count per GDP dollar (GDP=gross domestic product),

Regions can be sets of countries grouped geographically or geopolitically.
 

RANKING METHOD

TOP-3 RANKED GOLD MEDALISTS TOP-3 RANKED GOLD, SILVER, AND BRONZE MEDALISTS
By Country Medal Count China, United States, Russia United States, China, Russia
Medals Per Capita Jamaica, Bahrain, Mongolia The Bahamas, Jamaica, Iceland
Medals Per GDP Dollar North Korea, Zimbabwe, Jamaica North Korea, Zimbabwe, Mongolia
Average Rank Jamaica, Georgia, Mongolia Jamaica, Cuba, Belarus
By World Region Medal Count Europe, Asia, North America Europe, Asia, North America
Medals Per Capita Europe, Asia, Latin America Europe, Latin America, Asia
Medals Per GDP Dollar Asia, Africa, Latin America Asia, Africa, Europe
Average Rank Europe, Asia, Latin America Asia, Europe, Latin America
  • When the number of gold medals is used to rank countries, the top 3 winners of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are China, the United Sates, and Russia. And when the total number of medals is used, the top 3 winners are the United States, China, and Russia.
     
  • When the gold medal count per capita is used, the top 3 winners are Jamaica, Bahrain, and Mongolia. And when the total number of medals per capita is used, the top 3 winners are The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Iceland.
     
  • Most curious: when the gold medal count per GDP dollar is used, the undisputed top dog is North Korea.
     
  • Finally, when the ranks from all the methods − the medal count method, the per capita method, and the per GDP dollar method − are averaged, the top 3 gold winners are Jamaica, Georgia, and Mongolia. China, the United States, and Russia are ranked 27, 30, and 13, respectively.

Comprehensive country rankings and data sources2-5 are provided below.

MEDALS RANKINGS BY COUNTRY

Note that China, the United States, and Russia − the top 3 ranked gold medalists −, are ranked

  • On a per capita basis: 47, 32, and  25, respectively.
  • On a per GDP dollar basis: 29. 47, and 27, respectively.

Gold Medals Rankings − 3 Perspectives

 
GOLD Medals GOLD Medals per Capita GOLD Medals per GDP Dollar
Rank Country Rank Country Rank Country
1 China (PRC) 1 Jamaica 1 North Korea
2 United States 2 Bahrain 2 Zimbabwe
3 Russia 3 Mongolia 3 Jamaica
4 United Kingdom 4 Estonia 4 Mongolia
5 Germany 5 New Zealand 5 Georgia
6 Australia 6 Georgia 6 Ethiopia
7 South Korea 7 Australia 7 Kenya
8 Japan 8 Norway 8 Belarus
9 Italy 9 Slovakia 9 Bahrain
10 France 10 Slovenia 10 Panama
10 Ukraine 11 Latvia 11 Ukraine
10 Netherlands 12 Netherlands 12 Cameroon
13 Jamaica 13 Belarus 13 Estonia
14 Spain 14 Denmark 14 Uzbekistan
14 Kenya 15 United Kingdom 15 Cuba
16 Belarus 16 Panama 16 Slovakia
16 Romania 17 Hungary 17 Latvia
16 Ethiopia 18 Czech Republic 18 Azerbaijan
19 Canada 19 South Korea 19 Tunisia
19 Brazil 20 Switzerland 20 Dominican Republic
19 Poland 21 Germany 21 Bulgaria
19 Hungary 22 Finland 22 Romania
19 Norway 23 Romania 23 New Zealand
19 New Zealand 24 Cuba 24 Slovenia
19 Czech Republic 25 Russia 25 Hungary
19 Slovakia 26 Ukraine 26 Kazakhstan
19 Georgia 27 Italy 27 Russia
28 Cuba 28 Kenya 28 Czech Republic
28 Kazakhstan 29 Bulgaria 29 China (PRC)
28 Denmark 30 Kazakhstan 30 Australia
28 North Korea 31 Azerbaijan 31 South Korea
28 Argentina 32 United States 32 Netherlands
28 Switzerland 33 France 33 Thailand
28 Mongolia 34 Spain 34 Argentina
28 Thailand 35 Dominican Republic 35 Norway
28 Mexico 36 Tunisia 36 Poland
37 Turkey 37 Belgium 37 United Kingdom
37 Azerbaijan 38 Portugal 38 Denmark
37 Uzbekistan 39 Canada 39 Germany
37 Slovenia 40 North Korea 40 Switzerland
37 Bulgaria 41 Poland 41 Portugal
37 Indonesia 42 Zimbabwe 42 Finland
37 Zimbabwe 43 Japan 43 Italy
37 Finland 44 Cameroon 44 Spain
37 Latvia 45 Ethiopia 45 Iran
37 India 46 Argentina 46 France
37 Belgium 47 China (PRC) 47 United States
37 Dominican Republic 48 Uzbekistan 48 Indonesia
37 Estonia 49 Thailand 49 Brazil
37 Portugal 50 Mexico 50 Mexico
37 Iran 51 Brazil 51 Belgium
37 Bahrain 52 Iran 52 Canada
37 Cameroon 53 Turkey 53 Japan
37 Panama 54 Indonesia 54 Turkey
37 Tunisia 55 India 55 India
56 Armenia 56 Armenia 56 Armenia
56 Sweden 56 Sweden 56 Sweden
56 Croatia 56 Croatia 56 Croatia
56 Lithuania 56 Lithuania 56 Lithuania
56 Greece 56 Greece 56 Greece
56 Nigeria 56 Nigeria 56 Nigeria
56 Republic of China (Taiwan) 56 Republic of China (Taiwan) 56 Republic of China (Taiwan)
56 Austria 56 Austria 56 Austria
56 Ireland 56 Ireland 56 Ireland
56 Serbia 56 Serbia 56 Serbia
56 Trinidad and Tobago 56 Trinidad and Tobago 56 Trinidad and Tobago
56 Algeria 56 Algeria 56 Algeria
56 The Bahamas 56 The Bahamas 56 The Bahamas
56 Colombia 56 Colombia 56 Colombia
56 Kyrgyzstan 56 Kyrgyzstan 56 Kyrgyzstan
56 Morocco 56 Morocco 56 Morocco
56 Tajikistan 56 Tajikistan 56 Tajikistan
56 Chile 56 Chile 56 Chile
56 Ecuador 56 Ecuador 56 Ecuador
56 Iceland 56 Iceland 56 Iceland
56 Malaysia 56 Malaysia 56 Malaysia
56 Singapore 56 Singapore 56 Singapore
56 South Africa 56 South Africa 56 South Africa
56 Sudan 56 Sudan 56 Sudan
56 Vietnam 56 Vietnam 56 Vietnam
56 Afghanistan 56 Afghanistan 56 Afghanistan
56 Egypt 56 Egypt 56 Egypt
56 Israel 56 Israel 56 Israel
56 Mauritius 56 Mauritius 56 Mauritius
56 Moldova 56 Moldova 56 Moldova
56 Togo 56 Togo 56 Togo
56 Venezuela 56 Venezuela 56 Venezuela


Total
Medals Rankings − 3 Perspectives

 
TOTAL Medals TOTAL Medals per Capita TOTAL Medals per GDP Dollar
Rank Country Rank Country Rank Country
1 United States 1 The Bahamas 1 North Korea
2 China (PRC) 2 Jamaica 2 Zimbabwe
3 Russia 3 Iceland 3 Mongolia
4 United Kingdom 4 Slovenia 4 Jamaica
5 Australia 5 Australia 5 Armenia
6 Germany 6 Cuba 6 Georgia
7 France 7 New Zealand 7 Tajikistan
8 South Korea 8 Norway 8 Kyrgyzstan
9 Italy 9 Armenia 9 Cuba
10 Ukraine 10 Belarus 10 Kenya
11 Japan 11 Mongolia 11 Belarus
12 Cuba 12 Trinidad and Tobago 12 Togo
13 Belarus 13 Estonia 13 Ethiopia
14 Spain 14 Lithuania 14 The Bahamas
14 Canada 15 Georgia 15 Uzbekistan
16 Netherlands 16 Latvia 16 Moldova
17 Brazil 17 Bahrain 17 Azerbaijan
18 Kenya 18 Denmark 18 Ukraine
19 Kazakhstan 19 Slovakia 19 Mauritius
20 Jamaica 20 Croatia 20 Lithuania
21 Poland 21 Hungary 21 Bulgaria
21 Hungary 22 Netherlands 22 Kazakhstan
21 Norway 23 Kazakhstan 23 Afghanistan
24 New Zealand 24 Azerbaijan 24 Latvia
25 Romania 25 Mauritius 25 Slovenia
25 Turkey 26 Switzerland 26 Croatia
27 Ethiopia 27 United Kingdom 27 Trinidad and Tobago
27 Denmark 28 Finland 28 Estonia
27 Azerbaijan 29 Ireland 29 Slovakia
30 Czech Republic 30 Bulgaria 30 Hungary
30 Slovakia 31 South Korea 31 Serbia
30 Georgia 32 France 32 New Zealand
30 North Korea 33 Ukraine 33 Russia
30 Argentina 34 Czech Republic 34 Dominican Republic
30 Switzerland 35 Sweden 35 Bahrain
30 Uzbekistan 36 Canada 36 Panama
30 Armenia 37 Russia 37 Australia
38 Slovenia 38 Germany 38 Iceland
38 Bulgaria 39 Italy 39 Cameroon
38 Indonesia 40 Spain 40 Romania
38 Sweden 41 Kyrgyzstan 41 Czech Republic
38 Croatia 42 Romania 42 South Korea
38 Lithuania 43 Kenya 43 China (PRC)
44 Mongolia 44 United States 44 Tunisia
44 Thailand 45 Austria 45 Morocco
44 Zimbabwe 46 Greece 46 Norway
44 Finland 47 Serbia 47 Nigeria
44 Greece 48 Zimbabwe 48 Poland
44 Nigeria 49 Panama 49 Argentina
44 Republic of China (Taiwan) 50 Tajikistan 50 Ecuador
51 Mexico 51 Moldova 51 Denmark
51 Latvia 52 Poland 52 Netherlands
51 India 53 North Korea 53 Sudan
51 Austria 54 Uzbekistan 54 United Kingdom
51 Ireland 55 Singapore 55 Finland
51 Serbia 56 Dominican Republic 56 Thailand
57 Belgium 57 Japan 57 France
57 Dominican Republic 58 Belgium 58 Algeria
57 Estonia 59 Portugal 59 Vietnam
57 Portugal 60 Republic of China (Taiwan) 60 Switzerland
57 Iran 61 Togo 61 Italy
57 Trinidad and Tobago 62 Argentina 62 Greece
57 Algeria 63 Israel 63 Canada
57 The Bahamas 64 Turkey 64 Spain
57 Colombia 65 Tunisia 65 Germany
57 Kyrgyzstan 66 Ethiopia 66 Turkey
57 Morocco 67 Brazil 67 Colombia
57 Tajikistan 68 China (PRC) 68 Ireland
69 Bahrain 69 Ecuador 69 Indonesia
69 Cameroon 70 Morocco 70 Brazil
69 Panama 71 Thailand 71 Sweden
69 Tunisia 72 Chile 72 Republic of China (Taiwan)
69 Chile 73 Algeria 73 Portugal
69 Ecuador 74 Cameroon 74 Austria
69 Iceland 75 Colombia 75 United States
69 Malaysia 76 Afghanistan 76 Egypt
69 Singapore 77 Malaysia 77 Iran
69 South Africa 78 Venezuela 78 Singapore
69 Sudan 79 Iran 79 Israel
69 Vietnam 80 Mexico 80 Chile
69 Afghanistan 81 Nigeria 81 Japan
69 Egypt 82 Sudan 82 Malaysia
69 Israel 83 Indonesia 83 Belgium
69 Mauritius 84 South Africa 84 Venezuela
69 Moldova 85 Egypt 85 South Africa
69 Togo 86 Vietnam 86 Mexico
69 Venezuela 87 India 87 India

MEDALS RANKINGS BY WORLD REGION

Gold Medals Rankings − 3 Perspectives

 
GOLD Medals GOLD Medals per Capita GOLD Medals per GDP Dollar
Rank Country Rank Country Rank Country
1 Europe 1 Europe 1 Asia
2 Asia 2 Asia 2 Africa
3 Northern America 3 Latin America 3 Latin America
4 Latin America 4 Oceania 4 Europe
4 Oceania 5 Africa 5 Oceania
6 Africa 6 Northern America 6 Northern America


Total Medals Rankings −
3 Perspectives

 
TOTAL Medals TOTAL Medals per Capita TOTAL Medals per GDP Dollar
Rank Region Rank Region Rank Region
1 Europe 1 Europe 1 Asia
2 Asia 2 Latin America 2 Africa
3 Northern America 3 Asia 3 Europe
4 Latin America 4 Oceania 4 Latin America
5 Oceania 5 Africa 5 Oceania
6 Africa 6 Northern America 6 Northern America

 

 

 

 

 


References

1 Kevin Eason. America refuses to accept defeat in Olympic medal count. TIMES ONLINE, 25-Aug-08, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4599875.ece.

2 Overall Medal Standings. The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 8-24, 2008, http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml.

3 List of countries by population. Wikipedia, last modified 26-Aug-08, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population. (Original data source provided.)

4 World Macro Regions and Components. United Nations, 2000,  http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/worldregions.htm.

5 List of countries by GDP (nominal) -- 2007 List by the CIA World Factbook. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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