100 Words on the Olympics

Recently, someone at the office drew a comparison between the number of medals won by India & Spain. Worst comparison ever!

Although talent matters, when all is said and done, wealthier countries stand a much better chance of winning (more) medals. Critical factors like a superior sports infrastructure, better nutrition, more qualified coaches, advanced training, a fairer (corruption-free) selection process and stronger incentives all significantly bias the results of the Olympics in favor of wealthier countries before the games even start.

I’m not saying winning Olympians from wealthier countries aren’t talented. I’m just saying you can’t compare apples with oranges.






PS: I realize that there are plenty of developing countries that win medals. But if we step back and look at the larger picture, it is undeniable that wealthier countries, individually and as a group, take home the lion’s share of medals.

To give you an idea of the numbers, of the more than 200 countries that participated in the 2016 Olympics, just the top 25 countries by GDP/Capita (all 25 had a GDP/Capita of more than US$ 25,000) took home a whopping 53% of the medals.