Olympic Medals Per Capita

This is an interesting perspective on Olympic medal counts — pro-rated by population. The United States finishes in the middle of the pack, right behind Russia and North Korea. New Zealand and Jamaica are performing the best (other than statistical outliers).

India comes in dead last, by a long shot. This year they have just one single medal, from a country of over 1.3 billion people. This story by Justin Rowlatt for the BBC News makes it sound like there are three main factors:

  1. India is very poor. Their economy is growing, but the government is spending on education, not sports. They spend so little they make their athletes pay their own way to the Olympics.
  2. Indian culture doesn’t put much value on sports, so even good athletes are under family pressure to give it up and focus on school.
  3. Cricket is so popular in India that most of the best athletes play it — but cricket is not an Olympic sport. (And even if it were, it could only give them two additional medals: one for men and one for women.)

Thursday, 18 August 2016