Predicted Medal Tables
There are numerous systems for ranking the success of countries at the Olympics, usually based on actual results at each Olympic Games. Described below is the method of ranking countries based on prediction modelling of expected results.
There are two categories of predictions. One is from scholars using economics and a range of factors to base their predictions. The other is predictions based on competition results leading up to the Olympics, such as those by the Olympic Medal Tracker from USAToday and 'Sports Myriad', which predicts the specific winners of each event.
Did everyone predict the US would top the medal tally in 2012? See who was predicted to win in 2012.
How Good are the Predictions?
Having predictions from previous Olympic Games leads to another method of ranking - you can rank countries based on actual results compared to that predicted. These would not necessarily be the most success countries, but those that performed much better than expected. We have used the prediction results of those listed below to compare to the actual lists from the last few Olympics.
Medal Prediction Models
- Dan Johnson — this prediction model is provided by this professor of economics at Colorado College. The model includes only non-athletic data. Historically, the prediction model included these five key variables: income per capita, population, political structure, climate, and a host nation advantage and using data from every participating nation since 1952. The model was updated for the 2012 predictions, removing political structure and climate factors and adding a host nation effect and a "nation-specific cultural effect". See the paper Johnson D. & A. Ali (2004), A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Social Science Quarterly, 85 (4), 974-93.. His predictions have been compared for 2004, 2008 and 2012.
- Andrew B. Bernard of the Tuck School at Dartmouth. A forecasting model incorporating four factors: measures of available resources, population and per capita income, as well as the share of medals in the most recent Summer Olympics and a host effect. His research publications include: Bernard A.B and Busse, M, "Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economics Resources and Medal Totals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2004, Vol 86. No. 1. More information is available at mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/andrew.bernard/Olympicmedals.htm. His predictions have been compared for 2000, 2004, 2008.
- Emily Williams — Williams is a recent graduate of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She published online predictions for 2012 based on the model formula originally presented by Bernard and Busse: "Jolly Good Show: Who Will Win the 2012 Olympic Games in London?". These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Meghan Busse — Busse is a co-author with Andrew Bernard who have provided previous prediction models. Busse is from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in the US, and this prediction of the total medals to be won at the London Olympics is based solely on population and GDP per head. Details of her model were listed on the BBC.co.uk website. These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Olympic Medal Tracker — This medal table prediction was seen on the websites for USAToday and Melbourne Herald Sun (and possibly others), produced in partnership with Infostrada Sports. This predictor uses an algorithm to rank athletes and teams in each Olympic event based on recent competition results, and was updated monthly leading up to the Games. All medal events are tracked except for three tennis disciplines (men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles). They are not being tracked as there is no regular international competition that can be used as a proper form guide. These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Sports Myriad — another prediction based on predicting individual medalists like the Medal Tracker above, by Beau Dure. Sports Myriad shifts though each sport and projects the winners in London, based on past results. The list is regularly updated based on recent data such as results in World Cups and World Championships leading up to the Games. For more info see www.sportsmyriad.com. These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Benchmark Analysis — these results are from analysis by the Australian Olympic Committee which predicted Olympic Games medal rankings in 2012 based on results in World Championships, World Cups and other major international events held in 2010. For the sports of swimming and athletics which did not have world championships in 2010 it is based on performances achieved internationally over the year. The actual number of Olympic medals were not predicted, just the medal rank order. For more info see http://corporate.Olympics.com.au. These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Price WaterhouseCoopers — PwC developed a medal prediction model published in "Modelling Olympic performance - Economic briefing paper" from June 2012 (details here). The model is based on the following factors: Population; Average income levels (measured by GDP per capita at PPP exchange rates); Whether the country was previously part of the former Soviet bloc (including Cuba in this case); Whether the country is the host nation; and Medal shares in the previous Olympic Games. PwC only predicted total medal count, not gold medals as many of the other predictions have done. These predictions have been compared for 2012.
- Johnson D. & A. Ali (2004), A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Social Science Quarterly, 85 (4), 974-93
- Andrew B. Bernard and Meghan R. Busse, (2004) "Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economic Resources and Medal Totals", Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 86, no.1.
- Bian, X. 2005. Predicting Olympic medal counts: The effects of economic development on Olympic performance. The Park Place Economist, XIII: 37–44.
- CONCLUSION: Consistent with previous studies on national Olympic performance, this paper found that socioeconomic variables, including population size, economic resources, hosting advantage, and political structure have a significant impact on a country's Olympic performance. In general, population size and economic resources are positively correlated with medal counts. The larger the population size, the more likely a country is going to do better in the Olympics; the richer a country is, the more Olympic medals it will likely win. Being a hosting nation and having a communist background both have a favorable influence on a country's Olympic performance.
- My 2012 Gold Medal Table Prediction
- predictions for 2004, 2008 and 2012.
- about Olympic Medal Ranking Systems
- Comparison of demographic and weighted ranking systems.
- medal tables from all Olympic Games