Olympic medals by population

The table below shows number of Olympic gold medals (for the top three countries) as of 18/8/2008. It also shows the number of golds divided by total population (in millions, otherwise the numbers just look silly). It also shows the number of golds divided by the number people participating in the Olympics for that country.

I couldn’t find anywhere on the web details of the number of participants per country. The numbers used below where based on comments made by a TV commentator, and I could only remember the first digit of each! (I hadn’t expected the need to recall it at the time). Needless to say, take these numbers with a bucket of salt.

Country # of Golds Population (millions) Golds per population Number of Olympians Golds per Olympian
China 37 1,321 0.0280 600 0.061
USA 19 304 0.0625 600 0.031
UK 12 60 0.2 312 0.04

Interestingly, China still comes out on top for Golds per participant, even with their high number of Olympiads, congratulations to them (though again, the actual number is between 600-700, not 600 as stated, I shall try and find out the correct number, feel free to correct me in the comments to this post).

The country that comes out best in each column is in bold.

Australia is currently in 4th place with 11 Golds. Australia only has 21 million people. So in ‘Golds per population’ above they would have 0.52 Golds per million people, clearly beating all three above.

As someone who has never really followed the Olympics, I was surprised at how good the UK performance is this year compared to other years (see bottom of page). With the games not over yet, we haven’t done this well since 1920, when we got 15 Golds, and have only got double figures once since then in 2000, we got 1 Gold the time before that (96), and then between 2-5 each time from then back to 1960.

The official Medals list can be found here. The BBC list can be found here. Interestingly I notice some US sites list by total number of medals (as opposed to total of Golds), which happily puts the US first, though the New York Times blog explains that this is more to do with the source of the data than anything else.

The LA Times has written about Golds per captia.

Population figures from Wikipedia, most recent estimates.

Update: SportsReferences.com has the numbers I need as it lists the number of particpants, per country, per year (click on a country for an example). Unfortunately it does not have the 2008 numbers yet, and nor will it do until after the games are over.

Update: see the following site for many more interesting examples