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Olympic Medal Count Methodology

The other day I was looking at Yahoo! and Google front pages to compare what they are doing with their logos for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Hats off to Google for starting this trend that all the portals are now doing. I happen to think that Yahoo!’s Olympic landing page is the best overall.

Of the three sites (NBC, Google, Yahoo!) I’ve been checking and comparing on a regular basis, Google is the only US portal that has China listed first in the medal standings. The US has more overall medals but Google is listing China at the top of their list. IMHO this medal count methodology would seem to fit well with Google’s “all or nothing” approach to things in the Google centric world of all or nothing. What do you think? Granted their source for the medal count is the Beijing Summer Olympics website – built and hosted in China by the Beijing Olympic Committee which I’m sure has no bias to the Chinese team. Perhaps their medal count methodology is from the same school that determines age for the Chinese women gymnasts.

  1. Jason
    August 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Good point! I also noticed the differences in medal count methodology. I observed medal count rankings from Yahoo, NBC, BBC, Google, and Beijing’s official Olympics web. Interstingly enough, both Yahoo and NBC seem to rank countries by total medals recieved, which gives team USA a higher position at current stage. The other websites rank countries by gold medals recieved, which lowers team USA’s standing and puts China on the top temporarily. Out of curiosity, I then looked into medal count rankings from previous Olympics Games, and I found that historically all past Olympics Games had been ranking countries by final gold medals recieved instead of total medals. American’s media is favoring its own team by using the different medal count methodology than the official Olympics’ way. Biased or not, it would be interesting to see how will rank the final medal counts when the games ended, assuming that if China recieves the most gold medals while the US dominates the total medal counts.

  2. Henry L.
    August 17, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I think the best way to determine who should be rank first by doing the following: Give 3 points for Gold, 2 for Silver, and 1 point for Bronze. You add all the medals up using this scoring system and those with the most points get to be placed first. I hate it that the Americans always bend the rules so they look good. I remembered in one of the previous Olympic (3 Olympics ago?) when they lost the 100m they stopped calling the 100m medal winner as the fastest man. They said that Michel Johnson is the fastest man in the world because he won the 200m and the 400m by a big margin (bunch of sore looser). Americans always say that if they have a level playing field they’ll always come out on top. Now I see that they cheat by changing the playing field so they can claim they are the winner.

  3. jay
    August 17, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I agree with Henry. The medal count should be adjusted for “value” or “weight” of the medals. In the Yahoo methodology, it does not distinguish winning a Gold vs a Bronze or Silver as if winning a Bronze is the same as winning a Gold. Tell it to the Redeem Team of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. The reason they wanted to “redeem” is the last Olympics, they got a Bronze. Yes, definitely adjusting for value of the medals.

  4. Michael
    August 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Oh give me a break, “Henry.” The Americans don’t do anything anyone else doesn’t do. The American media caters to the American audience. Everyone else caters to their own audience. Spare me this self-righteous, hypocritical, blindered bs you’re spewing. Give me a break, “bending the rules so they look good,” are you 15? The “Americans” didn’t change anything’s title. I’m absolutely blown away by attitudes like yours, the double-standard and the flat-out hypocrisy and bigotry.

  5. Michael
    August 18, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    And by the way, “Henry,” when you’re done hyperventilating, you might check out the numerous American sites that list the medal table by Gold ranking, and the numerous non-American sites who list by the number of medals total. Don’t want to blow your cozy, pat world view or anything, though.

  6. Pequim
    August 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Americanos otários!!!
    China is number 1!!!

  7. Dilon
    August 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Michael, you seem to be the one hyperventilating defending the US. It is true that US media is biased and NBC is bending medal count rules to favor the US stand. Just check how other coutries rank… most are ranking based on gold. at least they should be weighed.

  8. Dilon
    August 20, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Michael, you seem to be the one hyperventilating defending the US. It is true that US media is biased and NBC is bending medal count rules to favor the US standing. Just check how other coutries rank… most rank based on gold. at least medals should be weighed. makes no sense what so ever that a bronze counts as much as gold.

  9. Gori
    August 21, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Lol… American sites is ridiculous… no change rules please…


  10. monga
    August 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Hats off to Google, they now that exist a whole world around EUA, and they arent inferior or sup to anyone

  11. Dreamer
    August 21, 2008 at 9:10 am

    dont cry americans, china number one!

  12. Wetner
    August 21, 2008 at 9:23 am

    So the google(got respect of all world) should ignore the world way of count medals(this way came before u born), just because some arrogant Americans dont like it?

    Gimme a break !!

  13. Kyle
    August 22, 2008 at 9:20 am

    The International Olympic Committee, not China, determines the ranking by Gold/Silver/Bronze, not China. So the official website has the same standing that the Olympic Committee has always held. And not to put a damper on your American spirit thinking the good old USA can do no wrong, but the Salt Lake City olympics were marred by the fact that the host cited BRIBED the city selectors. Almost everyone has had a bad mark on them… whether or not it doesn’t favour the US, I prefer the Gold/Silver/Bronze ranking because it actually shows that a Gold medal is worth more than a bronze. If you use the total medal count, theoretically a country could win 100 Bronze medals and another could win 99 Gold medals, and then you’d claim the country that won the 100 Bronze was top ranked… and that’s just crazy talk.

  14. chad
    August 22, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    but you still need a weighting system. Why should one gold medal count more than 100 silvers? the current system placs effectivly zero weight on silver and gold since the likelyhood of a tie in gold medals is unlikely. one extra gold model would be valued over all the other medals combined.

  15. David
    August 23, 2008 at 1:34 am

    “Arrogant Americans”??? “Don’t cry Americans”????? “Bunch of sore losers”????
    Ask France how arrogant we are… last time I checked, they were the ones with the label of “arrogant”. By the way, didn’t we save France’s ass from Hitler? Don’t hear that one going around in circles much anymore, do you??? Hmm…
    Don’t cry… are you serious??? Are you a completely ignorant, pathetic, insecure, forgetful, brainwashed, small-minded, do-no-research-for-yourself, believe what you are “told”, inhumane schmuck?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Where are you from, North Korea???
    Sore losers??? Not that I really care, but how did this argument get started… US leading the medal count, or by the Chinese using innocent little 14 year old girls as pawns to win an agility dominated sport???? December must be a great conception month in China, considering how half the team just happened to be born in January of 1992. I feel sorry for those babies, not for our earned medal winners.
    Crashing on America, who just happens to be the BIGGEST party poopers of all the world’s Dictator wanna-be’s, is popular because of it’s freedom, wealth, generosity and loyalty to assistance in ALL CRISES.
    Get a life, read a book (if they are not all burned in your neighborhood), and come have a beer on us… you might actually enjoy yourself for once.

  16. Don Wayne
    August 23, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I don’t care about the medal count. The only thing I care about is would I rather live in the United States or China. I think I will stick with the United States, since the last I have seen, an earthquake in the US has not leveled buildings and killing thousands of people like in China. France is being bullied by Muslims, as is England, and much of Europe. The only other country I would consider is The Netherlands, because they have do have personal freedoms, and they are not afraid to piss off anyone, IE the Muslims. So go ahead and take your shots at this great country, it only shows how jealous you are that you do not live here and have the opportunities that US citizens have. In other words, I am extending my middle finger to the rest of the world and telling you to get a life!

  17. Deming
    August 24, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Two words come to mind, blatant ignorance. For those of you throwing animosity towards the USA, it simply indicates a high level of jealously and an inability to accept realities due to bad sportsmanship and jealously – sad for you. The bottom line is, the USA is leading the board with POINTS, based on MEDALS – Thats a fact. After all, ALL the medals are relevant. For some reason, everyone believes that only the Gold Medals count and are ignoring the point system? On every medal count, there is also an indication of point count. It’s irrelevant that China has more Gold. Each medal indicates a numerical value, which clearly the USA #1, China #2, Russia #3, and Britain #4. If anyone is bending rules and leveling the playing field for their own benefit, it’s clearly the Chinese, who are blatantly and consistently breaking and bending rules to their advantage. It is bad for all other countries, who are legitimately earning their medals. Instead of mindlessly jumping on the “hate america” boat, maybe actually use your brains. China wouldn’t be what it is now, if not for the USA and all of the free world. So maybe pick up a book, travel, or actually think, before speaking out of your blow hole. Oh and sore losers? What an ignorant comment. You’re just made your country cannot compete with our diverse and competitive nation. Let’s be realistic, you’re just mad we don’t kiss other countries as.ses, we kick it.

  18. Deming
    August 24, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Oh and Dilon. NBC bending rules? Wow, last time I checked, the medal have a numerical value – fact. When adding the sum of the medals you get a result and that result based on the current count indicates… (see my earlier post). The fact is, anyone that is bending the rules are the people who don’t want to believe the point system due to their inability to accept the facts. So go back to watching cartoons, this is “big person” talk.

  19. Troy
    August 24, 2008 at 2:27 am

    How stupid. THe American bashing is incredible. Of course they want to rank it by Golds. Of course they got 40 of their golds in some crazy a$$ events. GO thru the medals and see events that noone knows or cares about. I mean I am not bitter. The US has the most goals. BIg deal. Is it any debate who has the best and strongest country in the world? Scoreboard! Oh BTW take all the roids and preteens out along with corupt judges and we will see how pathetic China’s medal count is. They tried to hard on this one. Want so bad to show the world their presense. Communist dictators trying to show the world a kinder and gentler side? LOL too funny.

  20. Troy
    August 24, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Like saying if Great Britain had 10 Gold 1 Silver and 0 Bronze with USA having 9 Gold 39 Silver and 42 Bronze Great Britain would have the lead in medal count? Are you guys RETARDED? It says quite simply MEDAL COUNT. Show me where it says GOLD MEDAL COUNT. Grow up and let adults type. Go show your butt on Myspace. Unless you’re a 8 yr old gymnist. Then you will be training for China in the next Olympics.

  21. John Emron
    August 24, 2008 at 3:11 am

    WOW, nice topic dudzzz, well more games a country wins means he is the winner, Phelps won 8 only in swiming so it doesnot means that America is the king of all the games. although they are swiming Champs.

    USA this time its China …… You people are good but not the best…… take this as a motivational source for next Olympics instead of changing the opinion.

    best of luck and no harsh feelingzzzz.

  22. Lance
    August 24, 2008 at 5:56 am

    Bashing America is stupid but blindly defending it is just as moronic. America, like any other nation, doesn’t wade into any crisis with open arms to help people out, just like everyone they’ve been amazingly silent in Africa while all the genocide goes on… they’re willing to lose thousands of American soldier’s lives to help reform Iraq’s lack of democracy (Democratizing Iraq! What a politically sound shift when the original reason of WMDs turned out to be false) but nobody wants to stop problems in Darfur or elsewhere. And, more realistically, if you actually study real history texts instead of that pop history crap that everyone pops out to fan the flames of patriotism, had the United States not entered the war France would more likely have been under Russian occupation than German. For 70 years the western world has been playing up their sole moment of glory in WW2, and attached themselves to that with such vigor that I’m sure 1000 years down the road if no new legitimate victory can be found the Western world will still be hugging that win and claiming it was the most important crap that ever happened anywhere at any time.

    Any of you who say America bashing is because of jealousy need to take a 180… some people are anti-american for stupid reasons but not everyone, and usually it isn’t jealousy. Just claiming that is sticking your own nose higher than the last person and running around in ignorance.

    As for the medal count, Kyle is right. The IOC determined the ranking by gold, so you don’t need to chase after China for screwing with that. Despite some claims of a numerical points value for the medals that I’m not aware of, if you just gave them 3 pts for Gold, 2 pts for Silver and 1 pt for Bronze, China ends up with 223 pts and the US with 220. As for the Chinese blatently breaking rules, the Olympics is usually pretty good at catching and revealing scandals, and every country has had a habit of trying to pull something. It doesn’t surprise me that China might have cheated somewhere, but then everybody has cheated somewhere, the USA and China are no exceptions. But then, this isn’t about logic or sense, this is about waving your country’s flag around on your penis to prove whose is bigger – I don’t doubt for a minute that if the United States had more golds but less ‘points’ than China, NBC or CNN or anywhere else would suddenly adopt the official ranking because they get more viewers if everyone in America thinks the USA is #1.

  23. xxx
    August 24, 2008 at 8:43 am

    One word comes to my mind from the words that come from your mind: arrogance. US is leading the board with points BASED on medals? -NO- it is not the fact. Do the math yourself, and US is STILL not leading.

    Instead of jumping to your own conclusion, perhaps you should consider researching on, how should I say, accurate information. You still did not provide the actual calculation system; therefore your claim that the US is leading is just inane. You state it is irrelevant that China has more Gold count, then you say EACH medal indicates a numerical value? Are you drowsy, drunk, or dumb? Do you have proof providable on demand that the Chinese are altering the rules? I would bet you obviously do not.

    Why tell others to use their brain as a difficult task? Is it difficult for you? You imply that USA alone changed China. No; it was the efforts of all the people involved. If you do not like accurate, historical facts, then forget about your opinions on it. Pick up a history text, and actually think of something relevent while you think, not just thinking about others’ opinions.

    So you are trying to defend against being called sore losers, yet you say they are mad that their nations cannot compete with such and such nation, have no idea if they in fact are from such and such nation, and with no idea about how the US handles their own foreign policy? Try to guess which nation I am from. Let us be realistic here: you are mad that others can bother noticing the US’s negative details.

    What do I see in your blatant double-posting? You are defending the NBC, one of the worst broadcasters I have ever seen. Did they brainwash you until your IQ dropped? I will say this again: do the math, and the US is STILL not leading. Your inability to accept that the US is NOT officially ranked #1 makes you one of those damn super-patriotic flesh-water bags. Smart people never mention cartoons when they are in the US; they suck.

    There is a difference between bigger people and people with greater intelligence. You are the former. Why am I posting this? It is too easy when someone does not post good arguments.

  24. Dan
    August 24, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Deming, clearly you have no idea what you are talking about, since you do not provide anything relevent to your claims.

    Compare NBC’s table to the second one. Now, don’t blame me when you become ticked, but NBC is a very poor broadcasting company.



    NBC’s table is in fact biased for the US compared to the latter table. In fact, I have never seen a table with rankings by ordinary medal count.

    Judging by your personality and defending for the NBC, I can’t take you seriously enough to think that you know what you are talking about.

  25. Dan
    August 24, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Here is another -Yahoo!- site that is completely Japanese, and apparently, China is #1.

    Then a UK Yahoo! site

    grupo reforma, BBC SPORT, CBC, TSN, Clarin

    And the official site

    Basically, the world sees ranking in terms of gold count, then silver etc. I have only seen a table ranking by total in US sites i.e. NBC and NYT. The Yahoo! site mentioned in this is the US one.
    Compare the US one
    to the Canadian one.

    I do not think anything more need be explained. So Deming, you have been wrong that the US media has not been biased for the US people. Please also do not insist that the US is better than all other nations in every way. It does in fact have its negative values.

  26. Dan
  27. Dan
    August 24, 2008 at 10:11 am

    ^Everything to know about medal standings have been discussed here.

  28. Agosto
    August 24, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Funny funny..americans. Always trying to change the world! The IOC rules gold medal, then if tie, silver, and then bronze. All the countries in he world except USA follow that rule. instead of checking NBC, (ratings, audience, $$$…hello!) check ANY serious newspaper from any country in the world and you would learn (you can check http://www.bbc.com from a very american-friendly country) GOOGLE understand it. I’m sorry but the US is second, CHINA has 15 more GOLD medals, the one that counts….and USA only 10 more total…so not even close. The chinese focused on the gold cause it’s the important one.

  29. Steven
    August 26, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Here below is the American performance in the summer games since 1988*:

    Year, City, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Total
    2008 Beijing 36 38 36 110
    2004 Athens 36 39 27 102
    2000 Sydney 36 24 31 91
    1996 Atlanta 44 32 25 101
    1992 Barcelona 37 34 37 108
    1988 Seoul 36 31 27 94

    In other words, US performance at the Beijing games is pretty much exactly within expectations.

    * I only went back to 1984 because the US took in an absurd amount of medals that year because of the Soviet bloc boycott. The Soviet Union consistently came out ahead of the USA during those years as it, like China, invested heavily in an athletics program that was designed to foster national prestige. The only difference is that the Soviet Union competed in the real sports where as China did extremely well in other ‘sports’.

  30. Steven
    August 26, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Here below is the American performance in the summer games since 1988*:

    Year, City, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Total
    2008 Beijing 36 38 36 110
    2004 Athens 36 39 27 102
    2000 Sydney 36 24 31 91
    1996 Atlanta 44 32 25 101
    1992 Barcelona 37 34 37 108
    1988 Seoul 36 31 27 94

    In other words, US performance at the Beijing games is pretty much exactly within expectations.

    * I only went back to 1988 because the US took in an absurd amount of medals in 1984 because of the Soviet bloc boycott. The Soviet Union consistently came out ahead of the USA during those years as it, like China, invested heavily in an athletics program that was designed to foster national prestige. The only difference is that the Soviet Union competed in the real sports where as China did extremely well in other ‘sports’.

  31. Steven
    August 26, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    And what are these other ‘sports’? Of China’s 51 Gold medals, 18 were won in the following ‘sports’:

    Event Category, No. of Medals

    Badminton: 3
    Ping Pong: 4
    Trampoline: 2

    Women’s Judo: 3
    Women’s Taekwondo: 1
    Women’s Wrestling: 1
    Women’s Weight lifting: 4

    Of the ‘sports’ in the first group, Americans play these games when we are 6 or 7 at back yard children’s birthday parties (why not add ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ to the London games?)

    Of the second category, hmm….I have a feeling that companies like Nike and Speedo and others will continue to back Beach Volleyball and Swimming and Soccer before they jump on the Women’s Judo bandwagon. So, unless our government decides to back non-commercial ‘sports’, Chinese fans can count on winning Ping Pong and Women’s Weightlifting into the foreseeable future. Presently, the US government gives $0 to USA Olympic programs – hopefully it will stay that way.

  32. Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Steven, although you perceive badminton, ping pong, and trampoline to be children’s games, did you happen to ever seen any average 6-7-year-olds that actually do well at them? They are not as simple as they seem to be (swinging, jumping, etc.). I have tried all those [for fun], and I should say that to do well is difficult at most circumstances for an average person. All of those sports mentioned are sports none-the-less.
    Pin the Tail on the Donkey is indeed not a sport since there are no governing rules or customs, and no physical (arm’s reach, no timing, no defined pacing) or mental (no vision, disoriented) exertions what-so-ever.

  33. Dan
    August 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    In any case this is just about the overall standing-ranking system; just as a reminder.

  34. Steven
    August 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Dan – thanks for the response.

    Perhaps, were there a commercial angle to Ping Pong, our best athletes would remain in the game well into their earl 20s? It would have been interesting to me personally, if, say, Michael Jordan got into Ping Pong after UNC. Perhaps, he would not have gone to UNC at all, but rather would have targeted a university that had a more solid Ping Pong program.

    You have in fact pointed out a glaring omission; why is there no international governing body for Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Based in Lausanne, such an organization would be able to ensure that governing rules and customs were enforced. As for the athleticism, I think we would have to wait for the Chinese to dominate Pin the Tail on the Donkey to fully understand the potential of the game.

  35. Michael Palmer
    August 28, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    What in the name of all that is holy became of “pride in representation” rather than “pride in winning”? I am a Brit living in the U.S.A and I am proud of the way my country represented itself at the games. I have a great deal of respect for the U.S.A but I am sorry, the NBC did a lousy job of televising the games. If I never see one more game of beach volly ball I will die a happy man. Many events I would have enjoyed watching were not televised because the U.S.A were not likely to medal in those events. Oh by the way David the U.S.A was not totally responsable for saving the French from Hitler, they had cosiderable help from the U/K, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland, French resistance, Free Poles, and several other nations. Are you so obsessed with winning that you have to claim that you won the second world war as well??????

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  1. August 22, 2008 at 6:25 pm

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