Medal Count at the Olympics

Written by Iceman on February 17th, 2010

I was wondering the other day, what is the official ranking method for the medals table at the Olympics?  I thought is was always gold count first then silver the bronze, but various sports sites seem to have other opinions.  Let’s look at the medal tables from yesterday:

Let’s look at ESPN to start:

ESPN Medal Table

Clearly here it is a total medal count table.

Now on to CBC:

CBC Medal Table

CBC Medal Table

Another vote for total medals.

Next onto Sky Sports (which was woefully out-of-date):

Sky Sports Medal Table

Sky Sports Medal Table

A vote for Gold count first.

Next on to the BBC:

BBC Medal Table

BBC Medal Table

Now the voting is tied 2 for total medals, 2 for gold count first.

For the tie -break let’s go to the official Vancouver 2010 site:

Vancouver 2010 medal table

Vancouver 2010 medal table

The tie break goes to total medals.

Overall, I’m not sure if I agree with this, but from above it looks like the North Americans go by total medal count and the Brits go by number of golds.

A quick stop over to Wikapedia finds this statement:

According to Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper, the IOC began to accommodate medals tables in 1992, releasing ‘information’ based on the ‘gold first’ standard.[2] The medal tables provided on its website carry this disclaimer:
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not recognise global ranking per country; the medal tables are displayed for information only. Furthermore, the results that we publish are official and are taken from the “Official Report” – a document published for each Olympic Games by the Organising Committee. However, for the first Olympic Games (until Antwerp in 1920), it is difficult to give the exact number of medals awarded to some countries, due to the fact that teams were composed of athletes from different countries. The medal tables by country are based on the number of medals won, with gold medals taking priority over silver and bronze. A team victory counts as one medal. ”

—International Olympic Committee

So it looks like it is the Gold First method, officially.

On another note, check out this article about predicting the medal tables:

The Man Who Predicts The Medals


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