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What is the best indication of how well a country does at the Olympics: the number of gold medals won or the total number of medals won?

21 Comments
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Neither. It should be weighted. Here are the current leaders according to a 4:2:1 weighted ranking:

Norway Germany Netherlands Canada United States of America France Austria Sweden Japan Switzerland South Korea Olympic Athletes from Russia Italy Czech Republic China Slovakia Great Britain Belarus Australia Ukraine Poland Finland Slovenia Spain Kazakhstan Liechtenstein

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I have agree joeintokyo. I voted total number but would like to qualify that by size of team. If everyone on the small teams wins a medal then I would say they did very well.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Personally, I wish we could look beyond medal tallies (gold or total) and also take into consideration athletes/countries who are competitive (for example finalists i.e. top 8 or 12 depending on the sport) in a wide range of events.

As an example, the Netherlands are the kings of speed/short track skating yet do not have any athlete let alone contenders in alpine skiing, cross country, biathlon, hockey etc all winter Olympic staple. Nothing wring with that, obviously, but no one is going to make me believe that they are a more successful 'winter sports' nation than say Norway or even Austria, Switzerland, the us and many more. (nothing against the Dutch, they aren't the only ones who ultra-specialize in one or two 'fairly' niche sports).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ ArtistAt Large

Here's the ranking using the weighted 4:2:1 point tally per (team size):

Netherlands (33) Norway (109) Liechtenstein (3) Germany (153) Austria (105) France (107) Sweden (116) Belarus (33) Japan (124) Canada (225) Spain (13) Slovakia (56) China (81) South Korea (122) Ukraine (33) Great Britain (58) Czech Republic (95) United States of America (242) Italy (122) Switzerland (168) Australia (51) Olympic Athletes from Russia (168) Poland (62) Finland (106) Slovenia (71) Kazakhstan (46)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How about how hard a player tries and how gratiously they win.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I'd say total medals as otherwise you can get skewed medal rankings, for example a country with 0 Gold, 10 Silver and 10 Bronze would be behind a country with 1G/0S/0B. In this case, I would say the country with 0G/10S/10B is far more successful than the 1 Gold nation as it shows that they had 20 athletes who made it into the top 3 worldwide, as opposed to a single athlete for the other country. Having the medals weighted 3/2/1 would make it more even too

1 ( +4 / -3 )

joeintokyo - how does that 4 2 1 system work?

Are other considerations taken into account?

I ask because Norway has 9 g 9 s 8 br against Germany's 9 g 5 s 4 br yet has lower points (109 vs 153), although Germany has more participants and has a much larger population.

Any info appreciated.

And imo the whole country race for medals is used by many countries to pump up the nationalistic volume, which in turn devalues the excellent efforts of other countries athletes.

The Olympic Charter clearly states that the Olympics are competitions for individual (incl team) athletes against each other, and country rankings are not acceptable. The IOC say their tables are for merely showing results and not to declare the "Best" countries.

More focus should be placed on this aspect, but I'm afraid govts & media use it to hype up their own agendas, often failing to see the forest for the trees.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@browny1, I think we can take the IOC protestations about the medals tables with a pinch of salt.

They start the whole event with the athletes walking as teams behind their flags; they use removal of the right to fly a flag as a punishment; and they publish the medal table BY COUNTRY right there on their official sites!

https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/general/medal-standings.htm

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ADK - thanks.

I didn't say the IOC are protesting the situation - they're obviously not. I said that the original charter states that it's a competition between athletes and not countries.

And they say they use tables just to SHOW RESULTS and flags are to define teams - not to promote nations, which is why they are on their sites.

But hey - nations certainly use tables & flags to thump their collective chests. So doesn't matter if the IOC truly believes one way or the other, the games are definitely used by govts & media to promote nationalistic fervour. And I suspect the IOC likes it that way - the more beat up, the more interest, the more money.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JoeinTokyo, you might also be interested in this article from Wikipedia that goes through some of the old weighting methods. For example, in 1908 they used a 5:3:1 system and in 1924 they even had a 10:5:4:3:2:1 system where 4th,5th,6th place were given points in the ranking. That seems like a reasonable idea since only recognising the top 3 finishers is an arbitrary cut off.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_medal_table

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Generally speaking, I think total number of medals is the best. The more medals athletes get, the higher the average becomes. However, getting the Olympic medals is incredibly difficult, so just participating and competing in that field is worth admiring.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How hard they try and how gracious they are in victory or defeat???

Dude...cmon, I would be a world champ with that! Max effort and no skill! Pretty polite though...lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

used by govts & media to promote nationalistic fervour

It's time to look for an alternative. Below are the results using a 3:2:1 points system grouped by year of birth up to Feb 15. Individual events only. (Sorry, it was time consuming. I may resume for later dates.)

1980 (monkey) 3; 1981 (rooster) 0; 1982 (dog) 4; 1983 (boar) 0; 1984 (rat) 6; 1985 (bull) 3; 1986 (tiger) 23; 1987 (rabbit) 19; 1988 (dragon) 18; 1989 (snake) 18; 1990 (horse) 27; 1991 (sheep) 11; 1992 (monkey) 10; 1993 (rooster) 22; 1994 (dog) 20; 1995 (boar) 20; 1996 (rat) 14; 1997 (bull) 3; 1998 (tiger) 6; 1999 (rabbit) 1; 2000 (dragon) 8

Looks like the horses and tigers are winning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In a perfect world, a bronze is equal to a gold - “theyre all winners”! But lets be honest: in the real world a gold trumps the rest. It’s what every athlete aims for. That said, getting a medal of any colour would be simply amazing.

There are problems with all ranking systems but I’ll go with the regular table used by almost all news outlets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The number has priority. The more people can celebrate their utmost efforts met with fulfillment, the happier the nation as a whole is.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It shouldn’t be how mnay a person wins, not how many a country wins. Countries don’t win medals, athletes do.

Everythng has to ascribed to the state now and nationalism has become an obsession.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think most people can agree that it's either most golds or most medals.

The question is, why does it have to be one or the other? I say both get bragging rights.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does it really matter? Shouldn't the 'games' be about sportsmanship?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Disillusioned Exactly, exactly!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Quick question for those who think it's total number over gold: why would you rather have gold than silver or bronze?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm drawn to quality rather a than quantity. Taking nothing away from the dedication and personal sacrifice to achieve a podium position

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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