Sunday, August 24, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics: Medal Count Politics

Before the Olympics started, my friend Amy, made a wager with one of her Chinese coworkers which country would win the most gold medals in the Olympics. For 100RMB (15USD), Amy took the US while her colleague took China.

At that time, I personally believed that if Michael Phelps was taken out of the equation China could win. Otherwise, there would be only a small chance that China could stand on top of the gold standings.

At the beginning of the final day of competition, no matter what the US win today, China has won the total gold medal tally. The only question is whether or not China will eclipse the 50-gold mark.

I haven't talked to Amy yet, but I bet she is upset that she lost the bet. She probably feels the same way as most people in the US.

The most recent discussion online has been with regard to who won the medal race for the Olympics. In the US, the medal count has always been ranked by total medals won, gold + silver + bronze. I remember that from the 1992 games in Barcelona and in '96 in Atlanta. If that's the rubric then the US wins.

In just about everywhere else in the world, as well as the International Olympic Committee, the rankings are based on the numbers gold medals won. In this rubric, China wins.

Which one is correct?

The Koreans have a different idea. They think it should be ranked based on gold medals per capital (the number of gold medals with respect to the population). If that is the rubric, surprise surprise - South Korea is best.

Some in the US think it should be the amount of people with gold medals on their necks (since a gold in Basketball means 12 people have medals vs. weightlifting where only 1 person receives a gold).

I personally adhere to what the IOC's formula - since it's been used since 1894. I would also like to politely ask my fellow Americans to just accept the fact that China won the most golds and congradualte them for it. For a country and culture where being #1 is first and foremost, it should also embrase that winning gold is most important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i like the medals per capita or GDP. A lot of discussion on the web on how medals should be calculated. Found this nice little interactive chart widget which illustrates your points in nice charts: