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Comparison of Weighted Ranking Systems at the Olympics

Counting the number of medals won at the Olympics may not be the fairest system of determining the most successful countries. For example, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the USA finished second in the gold count to China, but were ahead of them in the total medal count. This created quite a bit of discussion about which ranking system should be used. The Americans were obviously quite happy with their usual system of counting total medals, but the rest of the world generally did not agree.

Maybe there is an even better system. Here is a description of a few of the different systems for ranking countries based on the medals won. You can see a comparison of how these systems affect the table order using the 2008 medal table as an example. We have also used the same ranking systems to compare the performances of the top medal winning athletes from the Olympic Games. See also the comparison of demographic ranking systems.

Weighted Ranking Systems

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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