Analysis of 2012 Predicted Medal Tally

There are many published medal predictions that we found in the lead up for the 2012 Olympic Games. Now that the actual results are known, the accuracy of the predictions can be assessed. We are using our own analysis method to calculate a single percent accuracy score. It basically calculates the average percentage difference between their prediction and the actual results for the final top five results.

In 2012, the leading country on the medal table at the end of the Olympics was the USA in terms of both gold medals and the most total medals, as predicted by many prediction models. Following the US on the medal tally was China, Russia and Great Britain. These top four countries were on all predictions, though the order was not always the same and the prediction of the number of medals varied. Using our percent accuracy score, the accuracy ranged from 54% to 95%.

Predicted Gold Medal Tally

Table of top 5 countries with predicted total gold medals won (predictions based on only results)

The best of these predictions was by Sports Myriad, getting the top four order right and only underestimating the gold medals won by South Korea.

rank Actual Results Sports Myriad Brian Cazeneuve Infostrada Sports (now Gracenote) Luciano Barra
1 USA (46) 55 (+20%) 42 (-9%) 36 (-22%) 35 (-24%)
2 China (38) 35 (-8%) 42 (+11%) 32 (-16%) 43 (+13%)
3 Great Britain (29) 32 (+10%) 23 (-21%) 19 (-34%) 19 (-34%)
4 Russia (24) 26 (+8%) 28 (+17%) 21 (-13%) 30 (+25%)
5 South Korea (13) 8 (-38%) 8 (-38%) 10 (-23%) 6 (-54%)
  percent accuracy score 83% 81% 78% 70%

Table of top 5 countries with predicted total gold medals won (predictions based on factors other than just results)

Of these predictions using information other than just sports results, Goldman Sachs, using econometric models to forecast country-by-country medal count based on previous Olympic performance and economic growth, was able to get a higher accuracy score than Sports Myriad.

rank Actual Results Goldman Sachs Williams Wall Street Journal Johnson
1 USA (46) 37 (-20%) 35 (-24%) 40 (-13%) 34 (-26%)
2 China (38) 33 (-13%) 48 (+26%) 38 (0%) 33 (-13%)
3 Great Britain (29) 30 (+3%) 25 (-14%) 22 (-24%) 20 (-31%)
4 Russia (24) 25 (+4%) 21 (-13%) 29 (+21%) 25 (+4%)
5 South Korea (13) 10 (-23%) 11 (-15%) 7 (-46%) 9 (-31%)
  percent accuracy score 87% 82% 79% 79%

Predicted Total Medal Tally

These medal tally predictions below were based on scientific analysis, recent results, or a combination of both - resulting in large variations between lists. As with the gold medal tally predictions above, the USA was generally tipped (correctly) to finish on top with China second. The best predictions are from Brian Cazeneuve (Sports Illustrated), Wall Street Journal and Goldman Sachs.

Table of top 5 countries with predicted total medals won (predictions based only on sports results)

The standout prediction here was by Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated, who used predictions of each medal event based on recent results.

rank actual results Brian Cazeneuve Sports Myriad Infostrada Sports (now Gracenote) Luciano Barra
1 USA (104) 99 (5%) 113 (9%) 82 (21%) 78 (25%)
2 China (88) 97 (10%) 84 (5%) 85 (3%) 100 (14%)
3 Russia (82) 79 (4%) 85 (4%) 83 (1%) 79 (4%)
4 Great Britain (65) 65 (0%) 78 (20%) 67 (3%) 62 (5%)
5 Germany (44) 49 (11%) 52 (18%) 61 (39%) 56 (27%)
  percent accuracy score 94% 89% 87% 85%

Table of top 5 countries with predicted total medals won (predictions based on factors other than just results)

The predictions by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Goldman Sachs gave the best accuracy of these predictions. The WSJ's prediction is part subjective reporting, part statistics and part computer simulation, utilizing the best of both worlds, quite successfully. The predictions by Goldman Sachs was very similar, though they did not use any previous sports results, using instead previous Olympic performance and economic growth of each country.

rank actual results Wall Street Journal Goldman Sachs Williams PwC Bredtmann Johnson Busse
1 USA (104) 108 (4%) 108 (4%) 103 (1%) 113 (9%) 100 (4%) 99 (5%) 51 (51%)
2 China (88) 92 (5%) 98 (11%) 94 (7%) 87 (1%) 102 (16%) 67 (24%) 45 (49%)
3 Russia (82) 83 (1%) 74 (10%) 67 (18%) 68 (17%) 71 (13%) 82 (0%) 30 (63%)
4 Great Britain (65) 66 (2%) 65 (0%) 62 (5%) 54 (17%) 57 (12%) 45 (31%) 32 (51%)
5 Germany (44) 49 (11%) 41 (7%) 39 (11%) 41 (7%) 36 (18%) 60 (36%) 36 (18%)
  percent accuracy score 95% 94% 92% 90% 87% 81% 54%

See the top 10 predictions for London 2012 for details about the source of each prediction. See also more details of the prediction models.

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