Real Indication of Olympic Greatness Revisited – BTUSAF 2012

Published on: Aug 15 2012 by vlado

Eight years ago, following some debate at the time, I did some analysis of the medal tally from the Athens Olympics to determine the greatest sporting nation of the 2004 Olympics. Well, I’ve had some time on my hands during these Olympics (due to my recent knee surgery) and I’ve done the same calculations for the London 2012 Olympics.

Doing some online research, I was able to discover weight1 and composition2 of each of the medals at the 2012 Olympics. The breakdown:

  • Gold Medal – 5.36g of Au, 370g of Ag, 24.64g of Cu
  • Silver Medal – 370g of Ag, 30g of Cu
  • Bronze Medal – 388g of Cu, 10g of Zi, 2g of Sn

Then, applying these breakdowns to the market values3 of metals on the international market at the time of the Olympics, we’re able to calculate the value of each of the medal. Giving:

  • Gold – US$605.89
  • Silver – US$329.52
  • Bronze – US$2.88

As was the case 8 years ago, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appears to be the best indicator to a nations success at the Olympics. The correlation between the nations medal haul value and GDP4 is much higher than the correlation between medal haul value and population5, evident by just looking at the Top 10 of the Official Medal Tally:

Rank Nation Rank (GDP) Rank (Pop)
1 United States 1 3
2 China 2 1
3 Great Britain 6 16
4 Russia 11 6
5 South Korea 15 19
6 Germany 4 11
7 France 5 15
8 Italy 8 17
9 Hungary 47 48
10 Australia 13 37

Also, evident from the above table is that Hungary did exceptionally well at London 2012 Olympics, given they’re in the 40′s for both GDP and Population, yet managed 9th on the Medal Tally.

Now it would be possible to manipulate the statistics in numerous ways to get whatever result we desire, as The Age proved already… but we’re really interested in finding out which country was the greatest at the London 2012 Olympics… so as we did in 2004, we look at Value of the medal haul as a percentage of the nation’s GDP, and then we normalise it to that of the USA (USA selected again b/c they once again topped the traditional tally) to come up with the “Better Than USA Factor” (BTUSAF) Tally.

So, here it is, the 2012 Olympic BTUSAF standings:

BTUSAF Rank Official Rank Nation BTUSAF
1 50 Grenada 300.72
2 18 Jamaica 107.65
3 20 North Korea 76.21
4 39 Georgia 52.93
5 56 Mongolia 41.53
6 69 Montenegro 30.87
7 24 Ethiopia 30.83
8 50 Bahamas 30.30
9 28 Kenya 30.17
10 16 Cuba 24.20
11 26 Belarus 20.23
12 9 Hungary 18.50
13 34 Lithuania 16.33
14 14 Ukraine 14.82
15 30 Azerbaijan 14.04
16 60 Armenia 13.78
17 50 Uganda 13.71
18 25 Croatia 13.63
19 12 Kazakhstan 12.02
20 15 New Zealand 11.74
21 47 Trinidad and Tobago 11.60
22 49 Latvia 9.76
23 42 Serbia 9.61
24 69 Botswana 8.54
25 45 Tunisia 8.17
26 42 Slovenia 7.73
27 46 Dominican Republic 6.99
28 27 Romania 6.83
29 69 Gabon 6.76
30 63 Estonia 6.75
31 19 Czech Republic 6.66
32 47 Uzbekistan 6.04
33 4 Russia 6.04
34 69 Cyprus 5.53
35 17 Iran 4.06
36 5 South Korea 4.00
37 3 Great Britain 3.97
38 29 Denmark 3.16
39 69 Guatemala 3.06
40 10 Australia 2.89
41 13 Netherlands 2.79
42 63 Bulgaria 2.68
43 23 South Africa 2.63
44 38 Colombia 2.15
45 2 China 2.15
46 41 Ireland 1.76
47 37 Sweden 1.62
48 7 France 1.55
49 30 Poland 1.55
50 6 Germany 1.52
51 59 Slovakia 1.49
52 8 Italy 1.47
53 50 Algeria 1.47
54 35 Norway 1.44
55 21 Spain 1.40
56 33 Switzerland 1.36
57 63 Puerto Rico 1.29
58 58 Egypt 1.18
59 1 United States 1.00
60 32 Turkey 0.98
61 42 Argentina 0.98
62 57 Thailand 0.80
63 22 Brazil 0.64
64 11 Japan 0.63
65 39 Mexico 0.60
66 50 Venezuela 0.60
67 36 Canada 0.56
68 69 Portugal 0.55
69 60 Finland 0.54
70 63 Malaysia 0.54
71 75 Moldova 0.32
72 60 Belgium 0.28
73 63 Chinese Taipei 0.27
74 79 Tajikistan 0.20
75 63 Indonesia 0.18
76 55 India 0.15
77 79 Afghanistan 0.07
78 79 Bahrain 0.05
79 75 Qatar 0.02
80 79 Morocco 0.01
81 75 Singapore 0.01
82 79 Kuwait 0.01
83 75 Greece 0.01
84 79 Hong Kong 0.00
85 79 Saudi Arabia 0.00

So… once again, the title of best sporting nation at an Olympics (factoring for medal value on the International Metal Exchange and GDP) goes to a Caribbean nation, this time Grenada, thanks to it’s first ever Olympic medal and it’s tiny GDP. Jamaica up to 2nd from 3rd in 2004. Cuba, 1st eight years ago is now down in 10th.

Australia’s showing is a dismal 40th, a far cry from it’s 15th in 2004. This could be put down to the fewer golds this time round, but also a factor is the stronger economy. Guess we can’t have everything.


Notes:

  1. 400g source: http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/ []
  2. Available at http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/ []
  3. Source http://www.wolframalpha.com/ Date: 5th of August 2012 []
  4. 0.8196 using Excel’s correlation function []
  5. 0.4678 using Excel’s correlation function []
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