PwC Study Seeks to Benchmark Olympic Medals Tally

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
June 15, 2012 /

Home advantage could once again play a part in how the Olympic medals are shared in August; but the superpowers of the US, China and Russia are again set to battle it out at the top of the Olympic Games medals table in London in August, according to a new analysis by economists at PwC.

This is the fourth time that PwC has published an analysis of how medal performance at the Olympic Games can be linked to such factors as past Olympic performance, economics and state support for sport. This paper updates these estimates to allow for actual results in Beijing 2008.

The following economic and political factors were found to be statistically significant in explaining the number of medals won by each country at previous Olympic Games before allowing for past performance (which subsumes some of these factors as explained in the paper):

• Population
• Average income levels (measured by GDP per capita at PPP exchange rates)
• Whether the country was previously part of the former Soviet/communist bloc (including Cuba and China) that tended to give significant state support to Olympic sports; and
• Whether the country was the host nation.

“In general, the number of medals won increases with the population and economic wealth of the country, but less than proportionately,” says the report’s author, PwC’s UK Chief Economist, John Hawksworth. “David can sometimes beat Goliath in the Olympic arena, although superpowers like the US, China and Russia continue to dominate the top of the medals table.”


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