Every four years, at the conclusion of the Olympics, many nations feel proud, ecstatic and joyous, and many others, like Iranians, feel down, dejected and poignant. Many observers, including this author, believe that the ranking of Olympics medals IS NOT a FAIR indication of countries' focus on sports, and on training athletes. It's after all, logical to assume that a country like China with 1.3 billion "human" resources, produces more athletes, and among them "Super" Medal-wining World-class athletes, than a country like Jamaica with only 3 million inhabitants.
There are several ways to create a more "fair" ranking of countries' true athletic-development abilities and attention to competitive sports. The two which I believe make the most sense, are “medals per capita,” and “medals per dollar of GNIPC” (gross national income per capita), because countries need "people" and "money" to train athletes.
So out of curiosity and in fairness to smaller countries like Iran, I went ahead and divided the "total" number of medals each country received in 2008 Olympics, by (1) that country’s population (in millions); and by (2) that country's GNIPC (in thousand dollars) based on 2007 data from World Bank. A summary of results are listed below:
A. The ranking of “total” medals in the 2008 Olympics:
U.S. (110); China (100), Russia (72), Britain (47), Australia (46), Germany, France, Korea, Italy, Ukraine, Japan, Cuba, …Iran in the 60th place.
B. The ranking of medals per capita (per million people):
Bahamas (6.7), Jamaica (3.7), Slovenia, New Zealand, Norway, Australia, Cuba, Trinidad, Belarus (2-2.5), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Mongolia, Denmark, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Netherlands (1-1.5), Azerbaijan (0.9), …, U.S. (0.4), .., Japan (0.2), …, Turkey (0.1), …, China (0.08), …, Morocco (0.06), …, Iran in 60th place (0.03), meaning we produced one medal-winning athlete per every 34 million Iranians! While in Cuba they produced one medal for every 400,000 Cubans.
C. The ranking of medals per GNIPC (gross national income per capita) per thousand dollars:
China (42), Ethiopia (35), Kenya (20), Zimbabwe , North Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus (5-15), Nigeria, Cuba, Mongolia, Georgia, India, Jamaica, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhtsan, Brazil, U.S. (2-5), …, Iran in the 44th Place, (0.6), meaning we produced two medal-winning world-class athletes for the $3500 Gross national Income of each Iranian (per year), whereas in Ethipia they produced 7 medals for the $200 per year of their GNIPC.
So sober up, fellow Persians! It looks like it's INDEED a fair statement to say that Iran "really" failed in this Olympics, both versus populated and large nations like China, and in comparison with poor nations like Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, etc.
But let's look at the countries who do well in the Olympics:
Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba: These Caribbean islands have lush nature, rough weather, reasonable national incomes, and people with healthy diets and rugged lifestyle, and often produce many athletes in track and field, and other areas.
Australia: Open waters around them, open land space inside, rugged train, welcoming immigration policies (good gene pool), and Aussies’ love of nature helps this nation to produce strong athletes.
Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Azerbaijan, …: The former Communist block and Eastern European countries, similar to Cuba, still treat athletic development as a national priority and pride, and spend relatively high budgets in training world-class athletes.
Denmark, Greece, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, U.S., …: High national incomes and good genetic factors help the Western European countries and the U.S. in training world-class athletes.
Middle Eastern and Islamic countries often do not do well in Olympics. If we do not count Azerbaijan and Turkey in this group, occasional medal winners are Morocco, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia with large populations, or Arab nations with large per capita incomes, often do not win ANY medals. This is perhaps a reflection of some weather and genetic factors, as well as the low priority of competitive sports and athletic development in these countries.
You can check other views on kodoom.com.
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