Olympic Medal Count in 2010 counted in different ways depending on where you live

One thing that always amuses me during the Olympics is the nationalistic jingoism that is often displayed, mainly in an anti-USA manner by fans from other parts of the world.  It can be silly, like saying ‘Chanting USA-USA is Nazi-like’ but Greek fans in Athens chanting ‘Hellas-Hellas’ is part of the Olympic spirit.”  One other way it manifests itself is in the endless debate about the medal table. I’ve spoken about this before during the medal debate in Beijing.  There are two ways of counting medals by country at the Olympics.  By the number of golds, then silvers, then bronze, or by the overall number of medals.  The United States media generally reports on the overall number of medals, whereas most of the rest of the world reports on who has the highest number of gold medals.  Thus a country with 1 gold would appear higher than a country with 6 silvers and 10 bronze medals in some tables.  This has led to some countries like Russia criticizing the Gold First standard saying ‘how can a country with 12 medalists be said to have a ‘poorer’ Olympics than a country with just one medal?’  Some commentators have suggested a ‘points system‘ whereby a bronze is worth 1/5 of a Gold or something like that.  Sounds very silly (it’s a British idea so yeah, it is very silly). Officially–there is no ranking.  The Olympic charter forbids it:

The IOC and the OCOG shall not draw up any global ranking per country. A roll of honour bearing the names of medal winners and those awarded diplomas in each event shall be established by the OCOG and the names of the medal winners shall be featured prominently and be on permanent display in the main stadium.
However, there is an unofficial ‘media alert’ that the IOC puts out that has the medal table in the order of Golds first.  This started back around the 2000 Olympics and the IOC won’t comment on the debate because “officially, we don’t publish a table”.  How bureaucratically convenient.  UPDATE:  It appears that the Vancouver 2010 committee has decided to publish their list in a ‘total medals’ format, but the European media continues to follow a Gold first standard. Which is better?  Who really cares.  In the end it is about athletes and their own personal quests and sacrifices to become the best in the world. Some of them have help from nations, some do not.  If you see someone arguing the point that one counting system is inherently better or worse than the other, than you have found someone worth ignoring for the rest of the Olympics.]]>

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12 thoughts on “Olympic Medal Count in 2010 counted in different ways depending on where you live”

  1. It has always been the gold medals taht counted first, but the Americans started the total count of medals, because it looked better for them

  2. It has always been the gold medals taht counted first, but the Americans started the total count of medals, because it looked better for them

  3. No, it’s always been total medals in the USA for well over 50 years with one exception. People like to say the US changed it to look better but that’s not correct.

  4. No, it’s always been total medals in the USA for well over 50 years with one exception. People like to say the US changed it to look better but that’s not correct.

  5. Always or for 50 years? Make up your mind. I’m pretty sure the olympics are more than 50 years old, and the USA started to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago.

  6. Always or for 50 years? Make up your mind. I’m pretty sure the olympics are more than 50 years old, and the USA started to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago.

  7. Yes, the U.S. changed the count for itself to look better, not because the gold standard has obvious faults. Not because under the gold standard a nation could win 10 silvers, 5 bronze, and 2 golds and still be ranked lower than a nation that won 3 golds and 1 bronze. And, no, the United States did not “begin to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago”; someone apparently has never heard of the Soviet Union.
    The “gold standard” was also begun back in a time when there were less than 20 events in the Olympics, leading to much lower medal totals, a system wherein ranking by gold made more sense. Today there are nearly 90 events.

  8. Yes, the U.S. changed the count for itself to look better, not because the gold standard has obvious faults. Not because under the gold standard a nation could win 10 silvers, 5 bronze, and 2 golds and still be ranked lower than a nation that won 3 golds and 1 bronze. And, no, the United States did not “begin to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago”; someone apparently has never heard of the Soviet Union.
    The “gold standard” was also begun back in a time when there were less than 20 events in the Olympics, leading to much lower medal totals, a system wherein ranking by gold made more sense. Today there are nearly 90 events.

  9. Ok, as of what Olympiad did the US media make the change? Can someone show me a link or an old publication that shows there was a distinct change “to make the US look better” (I’m curious).
    Show me specifically when it happened and why. Would love to see it.
    Here is the copy of the WSJ (that is now firewalled) that provides more details some might find interesting. I really recommend reading it for some historical information on the medal tables:
    http://www.robladin.com/sports/2008/08/13/beijing-olympics-whos-on-first-in-medals-race.html

  10. Ok, as of what Olympiad did the US media make the change? Can someone show me a link or an old publication that shows there was a distinct change “to make the US look better” (I’m curious).
    Show me specifically when it happened and why. Would love to see it.
    Here is the copy of the WSJ (that is now firewalled) that provides more details some might find interesting. I really recommend reading it for some historical information on the medal tables:
    http://www.robladin.com/sports/2008/08/13/beijing-olympics-whos-on-first-in-medals-race.html

  11. “Always or for 50 years? Make up your mind. I’m pretty sure the olympics are more than 50 years old, and the USA started to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago.”
    I said “Always for well over 50 years” with a few exceptions (I think 1984 and 1928). This is another interesting article for those interested:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_medal_table

  12. “Always or for 50 years? Make up your mind. I’m pretty sure the olympics are more than 50 years old, and the USA started to dominate the olympic total medal count about 60 years ago.”
    I said “Always for well over 50 years” with a few exceptions (I think 1984 and 1928). This is another interesting article for those interested:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_medal_table

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