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Olympic Medals Table Per Capita

13 Aug

Don’t you hate it that the medals table just lists the number of medals without addressing how much bigger some countries are than others? No? Well I do. How impressive is it that China dominates when they have 1.4 billion people to fish from?

Because the populations of countries competing for medals at the Olympics are so drastically different, I’ve recalculated the final medals table to take into account population sizes. The gold, silver, and bronze columns on the right tell you how many medals the top 20 countries would have won if their populations were 1 billion people (actual medals are on the left).

Now, of course if there were a billion Jamaicans, there would surely still only be one Usain Bolt, not forty, and the USA and China still have to find and develop their medal-winning athletes. Bangladesh and India also have about a billion inhabitants each, and they didn’t win enough enough precious metal between them to re-plate a single Taj-Mahal doorknob.

Nevertheless, congrats to Jamaica, New Zealand, and Hungary for winning gold, silver, and bronze in the most medals per capita competition. Great Britain missed out on a podium place, but won an overwhelming majority of actual medals of the nations in the top 10. Hard luck, Team GB, on missing out on this the more coveted prize, but getting third in real life must go some way to easing the pain. An astonishing achievement.