AN OLYMPIC GAME

RUNNING TALLY | August 6th 2008

OLYMPIC GAMES

What would it look like if medals were measured in terms of population ...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, Summer 2008

When the Beijing Olympics finally get under way, on August 8th, the medals table will be everywhere. And it will have a distinct whiff of the cold war, with the major powers dominating--some even say that China will come top for the first time. But what would happen if the table took the population of each country into account? We asked The Economist research department to work out what it would have looked like at Athens in 2004.

The table on the left gives the top ten countries at the Athens Olympics by medals won, counting gold, silver and bronze as one each; the table on the right gives the top ten by medals per million of population. (Medals data from the IOC; population from the UN. Figures compiled by Michael Coulman.)

Of the actual top ten, only Australia survived, while eastern-European nations and sunny islands zoomed up the list. Anyone know the Bahamian national anthem? ~ Tim de Lisle