Olympic Medals in Context

Every 2 years athletes from around the world take to a single city to compete in either the summer or winter Olympics. It seems, however, that the same countries top the medal count list year after year. So what is it exactly that makes a country succeed in the medal count? How different would the podium be if all countries had the same wealth, population, and environmental factors? Well, here is a quick look at some of those numbers.

Maybe the biggest factor in succeeding in the Olympics is the size of a country's economy. More money means more medals, right? Here is what the medal stand would look like if we equalized the playing field in terms of Gross Domestic Product.


Maybe the biggest factor is population instead. More people means more athletes and more medals. Here is what the medal stand would look like if we equalized the playing field in terms of Population.


Maybe it is a combination of money and people - or more importantly, how much money you have per person. Excess money could mean more medals. Here is what the medal stand would look like if we equalized the playing field in terms of GDP-Per-Capita.


Maybe it has to do with the weather, especially in the winter Olympics. Wouldn't you expect colder countries to do better? Here is what the medal stand would look like if we equalized the playing field in terms of annual mean temperature.


One clear winner in all of this is Norway, which seems to perform well in nearly all of our controls except, perhaps, for temperature. Sure, it is cold up there, but plenty of other Scandinavian countries just don't seem to end up on the podium as often.


Our Methods
The data used to create these graphs was acquired from numerous sources including the official medal counts by the Vancouver Olympic Committee, the Population Reference Bureau, the CIA World Fact Book and other publicly available data sets.

The general model used to determine predicted medal counts at equilibrium was as follows:

  • Organize Data from 0 to 1 scale by dividing by the largest datum
    * This was different in the case of Temperature, where we expected an indirect rather than direct relationship (ie: lower temperature = more medals). In this case, we inversed the numbers by subtracting each from the highest data point before performing the same 0 to 1 conversion).
  • We then divided the medal count earned by each country by their score on this metric.
  • These new counts were then turned into percentages by dividing the new count by the total of all counts.
  • Finally, these metrics were multiplied against the total number of medals won.

It is important to bear in mind that our goal here was not to see what the medal counts would be if each tested variable were the ONLY variable, but rather what the number would look like if we removed it from the equation altogether. We did not check for correlations of any kind, so any relationship between these variables and the outcomes of the Olympics are purely speculative.

Interested in health careers? Find out more about the Rasmussen College Professional Nursing degree and Practical Nursing Programs.

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

This infographic was created by Column Five Media. Think this graphic is cool? Learn how to create infographics, websites and even design games at Rasmussen College.

Receive Personalized Information Today

  • Personalized financial aid
  • Customized support services
  • Detailed program plan
  • Attend a no-obiligation Nursing Information Session
  • Meet the Dean of Nursing
  • Enrollment application
  • Personalized financial aid
  • Career path guidance

How may we contact you?

Please complete all fields

What would you like to study?

The program you have selected is not available in your area. Please select another program of interest.

By requesting information, I authorize Rasmussen College to contact me by email, phone or text message at the number provided. There is no obligation to enroll.