Olympic Gold is proportional to GDP
tweeted last week, it is interesting to read how unequal these Olympic Games are:
...there are some sports that are in effect closed to all but the most wealthy nations.Of course, 'twas ever thus, and the poor will always be with us. But wouldn't it be a wonderful sporting legacy to 'inspire a generation' if the IOC started a fund dedicated to the building of swimming pools in Ethiopia, buying uniforms for Benin's judo champs, or bows for Bhutan's archers? Or would that be deemed a distortion of the market through 'state subsidy'? There is something of a dilemma here, for what nation should spend money on horse-Twitter dressage while its children are too hungry to climb into the saddle? And yet what is the real meaning of the 'No1 in the World' Olympic gold standard when all nations cannot compete equally?
"We have identified four sports where there is virtually no chance that anyone from a poor country can win a medal - equestrian, sailing, cycling and swimming," says Prof Forrest.
He points to a study suggesting there is one swimming pool for every six million people in Ethiopia.
Wrestling, judo, weightlifting and gymnastics, he says, tend to be the best sports for developing nations.
For the majority of other disciplines, money is key.
According to Prof Szymanski, 15% of all Olympic medals ever awarded have been won by the US, with European countries accounting for 60%.
"These are two very rich and relatively highly populated regions. The combination of these two is probably what goes to producing Olympic medals over the long term," he says.