Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ranking Countries in Order of Athletic Level

I never attach importance to the number of gold medals won by different countries in Olympic Games, nor want to find fault with that attained by China in Beijing Olympic Games held this summer. I would just like to point out that the ranks of countries are quite different when the number per population is considered instead of the actual number.

The ranks of countries by the number of gold medals (more than five) in Beijing Olympic Games are as follows (Ref. 1):

1China51
2United States36
3Russian Fed.23
4Great Britain19
5Germany16
6Australia14
7Korea13
8Japan9
9Italy8
10France7
10Ukraine7
10Netherlands7
13Jamaica6

On the other hand, the ranks by the number of gold medals per population among the above thirteen countries are as shown below. The first number for each country is the population taken from Ref. 2 in units of one hundred million; and the second number is the number of medals per population multiplied by one hundred million.

1Jamaica0.0271221
2Australia0.21465
3Netherlands0.16443
4Great Britain0.61031
5Korea0.48227
6Germany0.82219
7Russian Fed.1.4216
8Ukraine0.46115
9Italy0.59613
10United States3.0512
11France0.64511
12Japan1.287
13China13.34

If we include the countries and regions that won at least one gold medal, the ranks would be different much more. Anyway, the second method of ranking clearly shows that a good fight exhibited by Jamaican athletes including the sprinter Usain Bolt was wonderful in Beijing Olympic Games.

Let us consider two countries A and B, A having much larger population than B, and assume that these countries have the same athletic level. Then, country A is statistically expected to produce a larger number of excellent athletes. This makes the method of ranking by the number of medals favorable to A. In country A, however, the selection of the delegation for Olympic Games would be severer because of the limited number of medals expected, making the method of ranking by the number of medals per population unfavorable to A. Therefore, the method that combines these two methods with certain weights might be adequate to know the proper rankings of countries in order of athletic level.

  1. Overall Medal Standings, The Official Website of Beijing Olympic Games August 8-24, 2008.
  2. List of countries by population, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (26 August 2008, at 07:09).

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