Monday, 22 August 2016

An Adjusted Ranking of 2016 Rio Olympic Games

 Total Medal Tally 
Sports are all about figures, numbers that are measured with the most precise timers, and scores carefully tallied, and ranked. One number seems to get all the limelight is the IOC's official Total Medal Tally or Table (TMT). Perhaps because this figure gives the overall performance of a country in the Games rather than just on any one specific sport.

Medal table, Rio Olympic Games 2016
Total Medal Table

To put it in another way, the individual medal belongs to the athlete, and the TMT belongs to the nation. Therefore, this TMT ranking is in no way reflect the individual athlete. Just the ability of nations in producing top athlete.

Some would say that the Olympic Games isn't a level playing field with more medals going to the bigger and richer nations of the world. Is it possible to rank the sporting performance of countries by removing factors like population and wealth out of the equation to give a ranking that's fairer?

I think we can. Let's try the following for size.


 Weighted Total Medals Points (WTMP) 
For the purpose of establishing Table A to Table D in this article, I don't want to make use of only gold medals a country gets because that would be unfair to countries that have lots of silvers and bronzes but few or no golds. On the other hand, i don't want to using only IOC's TMT (that gives a single total number) because these sets of numbers treat golds, silvers and bronzes equally, which they're clearly not.

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze
1A212
2B174

In this example, country B clearly performs much better than country A. As it stands, only golds count. Silvers and bronzes count for nothing. Why bother handing out these medals then? Sometimes the difference in the result between gold and silver medal is a tiny fraction of a second that it may due to the shoes or even the hair of the competing athletes.


To solve these 2 issues, we need to derive a Weighted Total Medal Points (WTMP) system from the official TMT values. Instead of treating all medals with equal values, a weighting of 1 is assigned to bronze, 2 to silver and 3 to gold. In this system, higher WTMP values rank higher.

For example, Australia has 8 golds, 11 silvers and 10 bronzes. Instead of treating them the same and gives them a TMT of 29, WTMP will yield the following result,

WTMP (for Australia) = (8 * 3) + (11 * 2) + 10 = 56 points

Apply it to our fictional countries A and B, we get a fairer ranking,

WTMP (for A) = (2 * 3) + (1 * 2) + 2 = 10 points
WTMP (for B) = (1 * 3) + (7 * 2) + 4 = 21 points

Country B has a higher WTMP, so it should rank higher.  That's better, isn't it? It's not perfect, but it's better. I say it's not perfect because getting a perfect weighting factor for gold, silver and bronzes is tricky. It's less than perfect, but it's better than terrible when literally no amount of silvers and bronzes could equal a single gold. That doesn't sound too sporty.


  Population   (Source: List by United Nations (2016))
If country A has a population of 100 million and wins 5 gold medals while country B has a population of 50 million and wins 5 gold medals, all other things being equal, country B should rank higher than country A. This is because if country A has a greater population, it has a greater potential pool of people to draw from. A tiny country would be disadvantaged in the TMT ranking. Hence, the ranking needs to take the country's population into consideration.

To get this figure, we divide WTMP by population in million with the highest number ranks at the top.

Using the examples of country A and country B, their WTMP Per Million of Population is 0.05 and 0.10 respectively.

               Table A

Rank Country WTMP Per
Million of Population
1South Korea (KOR)784.18
2Grenada (GRN)19.36
3Czech Republic (CZE)16.53
4Bahamas (BAH)10.58
5Jamaica (JAM)9.55
6New Zealand (NZL)7.44
7Croatia (CRO)5.49
8Slovenia (SLO)3.88
9Bahrain (BRN)3.56
10Hungary (HUN)3.46
11Fiji (FIJ)3.46
12Georgia (GEO)3.23
13Armenia (ARM)3.00
14Azerbaijan (AZE)2.77
15Netherlands (NED)2.47
16Denmark (DEN)2.37
17Australia (AUS)2.32
18Serbia (SRB)2.26
19Great Britain (GBR)2.21
20Sweden (SWE)2.12
21Cuba (CUB)2.05
22Slovakia (SVK)1.84
23Switzerland (SUI)1.80
24Lithuania (LTU)1.74
25Kosovo (KOS)1.63
26Belarus (BLR)1.58
27Kazakhstan (KAZ)1.58
28France (FRA)1.20
29Greece (GRE)1.20
30Belgium (BEL)1.06
31Germany (GER)1.05
32Mongolia (MGL)0.97
33Italy (ITA)0.92
34Canada (CAN)0.91
35Puerto Rico (PUR)0.86
36Qatar (QAT)0.86
37Ireland (IRL)0.84
38United States (USA)0.77
39Norway (NOR)0.77
40Russia (RUS)0.76
41Estonia (EST)0.76
42Spain (ESP)0.75
43Trinidad and Tobago0.74
44Uzbekistan (UZB)0.73
45Kenya (KEN)0.70
46Japan (JPN)0.57
47Bulgaria (BUL)0.56
48North Korea (PRK)0.55
49Singapore (SIN)0.54
50Ukraine (UKR)0.47
51Poland (POL)0.47
52Romania (ROU)0.40
53South Africa (RSA)0.39
54Tajikistan (TJK)0.35
55Colombia (COL)0.33
56Jordan (JOR)0.31
57Malaysia (MAS)0.28
58Moldova (MDA)0.28
59Tunisia (TUN)0.27
60Argentina (ARG)0.25
61Israel (ISR)0.23
62Chinese Taipei (TPE)0.21
63Burundi (BDI)0.20
64Brazil (BRA)0.19
65Iran (IRI)0.19
66Thailand (THA)0.18
67Finland (FIN)0.18
68Ivory Coast (CIV)0.18
69Dominican Republic0.17
70Turkey (TUR)0.17
71Ethiopia (ETH)0.13
72Venezuela (VEN)0.13
73Austria (AUT)0.11
74China (CHN)0.10
75Algeria (ALG)0.10
76Portugal (POR)0.10
77Nigeria (NGR)0.10
78Mexico (MEX)0.07
79Vietnam (VIE)0.05
80Egypt (EGY)0.03
81Morocco (MAR)0.03
82Indonesia (INA)0.03
83Philippines (PHI)0.02
84United Arab Emirates0.02
85Niger (NIG)0.01
86India (IND)0.00

While IOC's official TMT tends to rank countries with large population higher, the ranking in this table tends to favour countries with smaller population.

South Korea is not only the highest rank in this table. It's the only country with 3 digits WTMP. It's not even a communist country. Impressive. Its communist cousin North Korea, however, ranks 50.

Note, India has a value of 0.00. This is caused by rounding. I think Indian would know that because they're very good at maths. If there's a Olympic Games for maths competition, they probably get a lot of medals.


  GDP Per Capita   (Source: List by United Nations (2015))
When it comes to gauge the prosperity of a country, it's misleading to look at GDP alone. One needs to look at GDP per capita for a more meaningful measure. India has a GDP about 3 times larger than Switzerland, but you wouldn't say India is a more prosperous country than Switzerland. Or has more money to train athlete (the Swiss probably spend more money in the Winter Games).

If country A has a GDP Per Capita of 10,000 dollars and wins 5 gold medals while country B has a GDP of 5,000 dollars and wins 5 gold medals, all other things being equal, country B should rank higher than country A. This is because if country A has a bigger GDP Per Capita, meaning it has more money to train more athlete than country B.

To get this ranking figure, we divide WTMP by GDP Per Capita. The bigger numbers rank higher.

Using the examples of country A and country B, their WTMP by GDP Per Capita is 0.0005 and 0.001 respectively.

               Table B

Rank Country WTMP by GDP Per Capita
1Kenya (KEN)0.022513
2North Korea (PRK)0.020115
3Ethiopia (ETH)0.019386
4China (CHN)0.017666
5Russia (RUS)0.012171
6Uzbekistan (UZB)0.010788
7Ukraine (UKR)0.009975
8Burundi (BDI)0.007246
9Jamaica (JAM)0.005068
10Azerbaijan (AZE)0.004912
11Brazil (BRA)0.004568
12United States (USA)0.004477
13South Africa (RSA)0.003514
14Cuba (CUB)0.003387
15Great Britain (GBR)0.003293
16Tajikistan (TJK)0.003240
17Georgia (GEO)0.003162
18Serbia (SRB)0.003111
19Ivory Coast (CIV)0.003042
20Iran (IRI)0.002790
21Nigeria (NGR)0.002786
22Hungary (HUN)0.002775
23Kazakhstan (KAZ)0.002664
24Colombia (COL)0.002642
25Belarus (BLR)0.002612
26Armenia (ARM)0.002574
27Vietnam (VIE)0.002369
28Japan (JPN)0.002248
29France (FRA)0.002207
30Indonesia (INA)0.002091
31Germany (GER)0.002086
32Thailand (THA)0.002063
33Croatia (CRO)0.001992
34India (IND)0.001896
35Italy (ITA)0.001876
36South Korea (KOR)0.001543
37Denmark (DEN)0.001451
38Poland (POL)0.001441
39Turkey (TUR)0.001424
40Spain (ESP)0.001355
41Australia (AUS)0.000994
42Algeria (ALG)0.000951
43Netherlands (NED)0.000945
44New Zealand (NZL)0.000927
45Malaysia (MAS)0.000922
46Romania (ROU)0.000891
47Mexico (MEX)0.000888
48Argentina (ARG)0.000871
49Kosovo (KOS)0.000846
50Egypt (EGY)0.000830
51Tunisia (TUN)0.000775
52Canada (CAN)0.000763
53Niger (NIG)0.000758
54Mongolia (MGL)0.000755
55Greece (GRE)0.000721
56Philippines (PHI)0.000690
57Slovakia (SVK)0.000626
58Czech Republic (CZE)0.000610
59Fiji (FIJ)0.000609
60Jordan (JOR)0.000608
61Bulgaria (BUL)0.000587
62Moldova (MDA)0.000542
63Sweden (SWE)0.000418
64Slovenia (SLO)0.000386
65Lithuania (LTU)0.000353
66Morocco (MAR)0.000343
67Venezuela (VEN)0.000335
68Belgium (BEL)0.000298
69Grenada (GRN)0.000225
70Chinese Taipei (TPE)0.000224
71Bahrain (BRN)0.000214
72Switzerland (SUI)0.000187
73Bahamas (BAH)0.000175
74Puerto Rico (PUR)0.000107
75Ireland (IRL)0.000078
76Estonia (EST)0.000058
77Singapore (SIN)0.000057
78Israel (ISR)0.000057
79Norway (NOR)0.000054
80Portugal (POR)0.000052
81Trinidad and Tobago0.000049
82Qatar (QAT)0.000027
83United Arab Emirates0.000025
84Finland (FIN)0.000024
85Austria (AUT)0.000023
86Dominican Republic0.000019

In this measure, the table favours poorer countries (countries with lower GDP per capita). In this case, North Korea ranks 2nd while its south cousins ranks 36. Both China and Russia have considerable lower GDP per capita than that of USA, hence their higher rankings.


 Collective Athlete Performance 
If country A has an Olympic team of 150 athlete and wins 5 gold medals while country B has a Olympic team of 100 athlete and wins 5 gold medals, all other things being equal, country B should rank higher. It's quality over quantity.

               Table C

Rank Country WTMP Per Athlete
1Czech Republic (CZE)0.875000
2Azerbaijan (AZE)0.482143
3United States (USA)0.451264
4Tajikistan (TJK)0.428571
5North Korea (PRK)0.400000
6Russia (RUS)0.397163
7Great Britain (GBR)0.393443
8Jamaica (JAM)0.382353
9Jordan (JOR)0.375000
10Kosovo (KOS)0.375000
11Ethiopia (ETH)0.352941
12Kenya (KEN)0.348315
13China (CHN)0.338983
14Grenada (GRN)0.333333
15Ivory Coast (CIV)0.333333
16Uzbekistan (UZB)0.328571
17Georgia (GEO)0.307692
18Malaysia (MAS)0.281250
19Armenia (ARM)0.272727
20Kazakhstan (KAZ)0.269231
21Croatia (CRO)0.264368
22Indonesia (INA)0.250000
23Denmark (DEN)0.238095
24Iran (IRI)0.234375
25Burundi (BDI)0.222222
26Thailand (THA)0.222222
27Vietnam (VIE)0.217391
28Japan (JPN)0.215976
29Hungary (HUN)0.212500
30South Korea (KOR)0.204878
31France (FRA)0.202532
32Germany (GER)0.202353
33Slovakia (SVK)0.196078
34Cuba (CUB)0.191667
35Italy (ITA)0.181230
36New Zealand (NZL)0.175879
37Netherlands (NED)0.173554
38Nigeria (NGR)0.166667
39Philippines (PHI)0.153846
40Serbia (SRB)0.153846
41South Africa (RSA)0.145985
42Switzerland (SUI)0.144231
43Bahamas (BAH)0.142857
44Bahrain (BRN)0.142857
45Sweden (SWE)0.138158
46Greece (GRE)0.136842
47Australia (AUS)0.133017
48Slovenia (SLO)0.131148
49Turkey (TUR)0.126214
50Belarus (BLR)0.123967
51Singapore (SIN)0.120000
52Spain (ESP)0.114379
53Belgium (BEL)0.111111
54Colombia (COL)0.108844
55Canada (CAN)0.105096
56Ukraine (UKR)0.098522
57Brazil (BRA)0.083871
58Chinese Taipei (TPE)0.083333
59Romania (ROU)0.082474
60Bulgaria (BUL)0.078431
61United Arab Emirates0.076923
62Lithuania (LTU)0.074627
63Poland (POL)0.074074
64Puerto Rico (PUR)0.071429
65Mongolia (MGL)0.069767
66Norway (NOR)0.064516
67Mexico (MEX)0.064000
68Algeria (ALG)0.059701
69Fiji (FIJ)0.058824
70Qatar (QAT)0.052632
71Ireland (IRL)0.051948
72Argentina (ARG)0.051643
73Tunisia (TUN)0.049180
74Venezuela (VEN)0.045977
75Moldova (MDA)0.043478
76Israel (ISR)0.041667
77Trinidad and Tobago0.031250
78Niger (NIG)0.026667
79Egypt (EGY)0.025000
80India (IND)0.024194
81Estonia (EST)0.022222
82Morocco (MAR)0.019608
83Finland (FIN)0.017857
84Austria (AUT)0.014085
85Portugal (POR)0.010870
86Dominican Republic0.008197

Czech Republic (asked to be renamed to Czechia) ranks high in this and Table A. Impressive result. China stumbled in Rio, dropping its TMT from #2 to #3 spot. And for the 1st time, there's no Chinese women players in the badminton finals where they dominate the sport for a long while. They didn't do so well in gymnastics either. Overall, the Chinese athlete didn't perform as well as previously.


 Final Aldjusted Ranking 
The ranking in the 3 tables above all have its distortions. Table A rankings favour countries with small population. Table B rankings favour poor countries. Table C rankings favour countries with smaller team. So we should combine the rankings from these 3 tables above to gain an average together to produce a more all-around, balanced ranking in the table below.

To obtain this table is quite straight forward. We simply sum up the rankings of the 3 tables above and order them from the lowest to the highest to obtain Table D below.

               Table D

Final Adjusted Ranking Country Sum of Rankings of 3 Tables
1Jamaica (JAM)22
2Azerbaijan (AZE)26
3Great Britain (GBR)41
4Georgia (GEO)46
5Russia (RUS)51
6United States (USA)53
7North Korea (PRK)55
8Armenia (ARM)58
9Kenya (KEN)58
10Croatia (CRO)61
11Hungary (HUN)61
12Czech Republic (CZE)62
13Uzbekistan (UZB)66
14South Korea (KOR)67
15Cuba (CUB)69
16Kazakhstan (KAZ)70
17Tajikistan (TJK)74
18Denmark (DEN)76
19Serbia (SRB)76
20Kosovo (KOS)84
21Ethiopia (ETH)85
22Grenada (GRN)85
23New Zealand (NZL)86
24France (FRA)88
25China (CHN)91
26Germany (GER)94
27Netherlands (NED)95
28Burundi (BDI)96
29Belarus (BLR)101
30Ivory Coast (CIV)102
31Japan (JPN)102
32Italy (ITA)103
33Australia (AUS)105
34South Africa (RSA)107
35Iran (IRI)109
36Slovakia (SVK)112
37Ukraine (UKR)113
38Bahamas (BAH)120
39Malaysia (MAS)120
40Slovenia (SLO)120
41Bahrain (BRN)124
42Thailand (THA)124
43Jordan (JOR)125
44Sweden (SWE)128
45Greece (GRE)130
46Brazil (BRA)132
47Colombia (COL)133
48Vietnam (VIE)133
49Indonesia (INA)134
50Spain (ESP)134
51Nigeria (NGR)136
52Switzerland (SUI)137
53Fiji (FIJ)139
54Canada (CAN)141
55Belgium (BEL)151
56Lithuania (LTU)151
57Mongolia (MGL)151
58Poland (POL)152
59Romania (ROU)157
60Turkey (TUR)158
61Bulgaria (BUL)168
62Puerto Rico (PUR)173
63Singapore (SIN)177
64Philippines (PHI)178
65Argentina (ARG)180
66Ireland (IRL)183
67Tunisia (TUN)183
68Norway (NOR)184
69Algeria (ALG)185
70Qatar (QAT)188
71Chinese Taipei (TPE)190
72Mexico (MEX)192
73Moldova (MDA)195
74Estonia (EST)198
75India (IND)200
76Trinidad and Tobago201
77Egypt (EGY)209
78Venezuela (VEN)213
79Israel (ISR)215
80Niger (NIG)216
81United Arab Emirates228
82Morocco (MAR)229
83Finland (FIN)234
84Dominican Republic241
85Portugal (POR)241
86Austria (AUT)242

Jamaica and Azerbaijan rank the highest in this Final Adjusted Ranking. Usain Bolt, who represents Jamaica is like a one-man Olympic team or Michael Phelps of Jamaica.

Even though i created these tables, i'm somewhat surprise that Great Britain ended up ranks #3. Their performance in Rio is exceptional.

Russia (#5) and USA (#6) also rank quite high.

To rank higher than #10 in Table D, China would have to get many more medals than USA.

China doesn't rank as high in Table D as the official TMT suggests (which is #3). China has a lot of room for improvement as they're latecomer who didn't join the Olympic Games until 1984 after decades of isolation like North Korea today (actually North Korean is competing in the Games and doing quite well. You can say that before 1980 China was more isolated than North Korea today. And not just in Olympic Games. But in every other way). The Chinese participated in only 9 Summer Games comparing to, say Great Britain, who attended in all 28 Summer Games since the start of the modern Olympic movement in 1896. Having said that, in the #25 spot, they rank higher than Germany(#26), Japan(#31), or Australia (#33).

Brazil, the host country, rank #46, sits about the middle of the table.

Sometimes, having just a few high-performing athlete can make a difference to the rankings of a country, USA has Michael Phelps, Jamaica has Usain Bolt. In the Sydney 2000 Games, swimmers Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Michael Klim, propelled Australia to #4 place in the TMT. Only in 1956 Melbourne Summer Games that Australia ranked higher in the TMT. Aussies won a lot of medals in swimming then as well.

These impressive athletes distort (the word is used in the same positive sense as the word "disrupt" when describing technology) the ranking of TMT of countries. The most awarded athlete can win more medals than 100 countries (in Rio there are 116 countries that receive no medals).

These multiple medal holders are tended to be restricted to sports of swimming and athletics. Some sports have no chance of winning more than 2 medals for a country (one for men and one for women). Not all sports are created equal for TMT (or WTMTP for that matter).


 Conclusion 
This Final Adjusted Ranking is far from perfect. Instead of just looking at IOC official TMT, which could be misleading because it doesn't take factors such as population, GDP per capita, and the number of athlete a country sent to the Games into considerations.

One thing that can improve this final ranking is applying different weightings to the ranking of Table A to C before producing the final Table D. But i'm in no position to come up with the correct weightings (i don't know if it could be done).

Olympic Games Rings Mascot and national flags


While it isn't perfect, this Adjusted Ranking have made allowances for all these factors, and give a ranking that's more indicative of a country's sporting performance overall. It's more balanced, fair and nuanced about the sporting performance of countries.

Think of this as just an alternative way of looking at the IOC's official TMT ranking.

Please let me know if you detect any errors in my figures in the comment section. I'll correct them accordingly.




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