Cash for your gold? Olympics in numbers

Cash for your gold? Olympics in numbers


After team GB’s amazing Olympics of 2016, we take a look at gold winning countries’ spending to get a wider picture.

Congratulations to team GB, who outdid themselves back in London 2012.

Their success has a story, and it is curious to see how the number of medals can be related to the money spent in national sport.

Additionally, all three of the top ranked countries for gold fund athletes in different ways. US athletes typically are self funded and do fundraisers to support themselves. UK athletes are funded largely by the National Lottery whilst Chinese athletes receive grants from the socialist republic, run by the Communist Party of China. 

Data from the Office for National Statistics is shown below. GDP shows the average wealth of a country but it’s not totally related to the amount of spending into sports.

Olympic medals per GDP

You can access the interactive info-graphic here.

The info-graphic doesn’t tell the full story, however.

Banning of Russian athletes by the ICO has had an impact. The Soviet Union has historically earned second place in the world for most medals, and Russia is closely behind the top three gold earners for the Olympic games.

The London 2012 games were also a significant boost for UK’s national sport. UK sport has been operating a band system for athlete salaries, from £15’000 to £28’000 per year depending on the athlete’s previous titles and potential.

The UK’ investment in sport has grown from £5 million in the Atlanta Olympics to £275 million this year.

Nevertheless team GB’s great feat in the medal tables has been commendable because of a much smaller population and size of the talent pool it has in comparison to the US, China and Russia.

It can’t be forgotten, however, that it is the ambitious spirit of our young competitors that pushes sport forward. They are from all walks of life, all around the world, who have made great sacrifices to shine in the Olympic Games. Medal counting aside, that is what really matters in the end, the human struggle to outdo your friends and your ancestors to make history.

North South Korean Gymnasts

North and South Korean Gymnasts take a selfie after event

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