Jamaica Wins The Olympics, Part II

August 29, 2008 § 2 Comments

Last week, I did an analysis of the Olympic Medal Count, using a weighted system for the medals (Gold = 4 points, Silver = 2, Bronze = 1) and dividing it by the Top 20 medal winner’s population numbers. In that analysis, Jamaica won hands-down, only needing about 87,000 people for each medal.

This week, having taken my analysis as far as I’m going to take it (for now, anyway), I created something called the “Efficiency Ratio”. The Efficiency Ratio is how well each country did in relation to what percentage of medals they should win based on their percentage of the world’s population. In this analysis, a score of “1.00” means a country won the exact percentage of medals that they should have based on the size of their population.

Breaking it down, I calculated the Efficiency Ratio by taking the overall percentage of medals won by each country (Weighted or Total Medals) and divided it by that country’s percentage of the world’s population. For example, China won 12.64% of all Weighted Medals and has 19.83% of the world’s population, giving them a 0.64 Efficiency Ratio. The only country in the top 25 medal winners who performed more poorly than China was Brazil at 0.46. Interestingly, these were the only two countries in the top 25 that performed below an Efficiency Ratio of 1.00. The rest of the countries are overachievers, with Jamaica once again leading the way with a 36.37 Efficiency Ratio. The top 5 are rounded out by Norway (15.49), Australia (14.85), New Zealand (13.71), and Belarus (11.46). The U.S. comes in 21st at 2.59, more than four times as efficient as China, but only about half as efficient as South Korea (5.12).

One of the other interesting statistics to note is that about 40% of the world’s population won about 80% of the total medals. With China being roughly 20% of the world’s population and winning 10% of the total medals, taking them out of the equation leaves us with 20% of the world’s population winning 70% of the total medals. And if you take the U.S. out of the equation as well, then about 15% of the world’s population won about 60% of the total medals. What to conclude from this? If nothing else, the rest of the world does pretty well at the Olympics, even some of the poorer countries.

Other areas for exploration here would be GDP and other economic figures, but what would be really interesting to look at would be the total number of medals awarded not by event, but by individual. For example, instead of counting basketball as only one gold medal, it would count for 12, since it’s a team sport with 12 players. Relays in track and swimming wouldn’t be just one gold medal, but four. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s not counted this way somewhere and who knows, it may be, but I’m done for now.

Download the spreadsheet here. (Sorry, but for some reason wordpress doesn’t allow the uploading of Excel files, so I had to save it as a pdf. Lame, I know.)


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