After updating the table after the Olympics closed last night, Switzerland rises 12 places to 24th after adjusting for population. The two leaders: United States and China slip down to 42nd and 72nd.
It is no surprise that the United States and China feature at the top of the 2016 Olympic medal league table. With populations of 324 million and 1.34 billion they have enormous numbers to draw on when searching for athletic talent. Smaller countries like Grenada and the Bahamas, with populations of 107,000 and 393,000, cannot possibly compete.
2016 Olympic medals adjusted for population
To level the playing field we took the total number of medals by country and divided them by national populations. Unsurprisingly, many populous nations slipped heavily in the ranking.
The biggest slider was China, which slipped from 2nd to 72nd place. Next in the race down the ranking were host country Brazil, down 54 places from 13th to 67th, and the United States, down 41 places from 1st to 42nd.
The two biggest gainers were the small Caribbean countries of Grenada, up 72 places from 73rd to 1st, and the Bahamas, up 57 places from 59th to 2nd.
The original top 5 nations
1. United States – 121 medals (population 324 million)
2. China – 70 medals (population 1,382 million)
3. Great Britain – 67 medals (population 65 million)
4. Russia – 56 medals (population 143 million)
5. Germany – 42 medals (population 81 million)
The top 5 after adjusting for population
1. Grenada – 1 medal (population 107 thousand)
4. Bahamas – 2 medal (population 393 thousand)
3. New Zealand – 18 medals (population 4.6 million)
4. Jamaica – 11 medals (population 2.8 million)
5. Denmark – 15 medals (population 5.7 million)
Switzerland’s 7 medals, 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze, rank it 24th. After adjusting for population (8.4 million), it rises 12 spots to 24th. Switzerland won golds in road cycling, rowing and mountain biking, a silvers in tennis and triathalon, and bronzes in gymnastics and shooting.
The nation in the original top five, which slid the least after adjusting for population was Great Britain, sliding only 16 places, from 3rd to 19th. China (-70), Germany (-29), United States (-41) and Russia (-37) all dropped substantially more.
Population is only one factor behind Olympic success. The amount invested in training and support of athletes is another important factor. Culture, geography, political stability and climate play a big part too.
Nations scoring no medals were excluded from the calculation.