Friday, August 15, 2008

Confusing Olympics Medal Standing

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is heating up in many sports arenas throughout a few cities in China. No doubt that we can see from the total number of athletes' participation that both USA and China would be going all out in their respective sports to compete for the number one position in the medal standing.

Who would dare to bet against China in not getting the number one position for the first time in Olympics history by looking at the current medal standing. But USA is catching up and with their athletics taking up positions in the track and fields' events, surely they will threaten China's current number one position.

But what am I talking about? What catching up with China? In Fox Sports, USA is already shown as the number one nation in the medal standing. Fox Sports took into consideration the total number of medals won (be it gold or silver or bronze). Fox Sports-shares owned by USA interests-obvious!

When you read the official Beijing 2008 website, the medal standing showed otherwise where China is the top nation. Obviously, this website is maintained by China web administrators.Which medal standing do you support?

For me, I'll adopt the medal standing which rates the nations according to their number of gold medals first. There are 302 gold medals to be won. Imagine USA was to win all the 302 golds and China won the rest of the 604 silvers and bronzes, will China be accepted as the number one in the medal standing?

Reading: China Vs USA, The Olympic Medal Race Begins - Great Findings

Reading: The Medal Rankings: Which Country Leads the Olympics? - New York Times

Reading: Raising the Stakes at the Olympics - Time

Tags: USA, China, Sports, Olympics, Beijing, Beijing 2008, Beijing Olympics, Olympic Games, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Olympic Games Medal Standing, Medal Standing, Fox Sports



Blogger SamSeiko said...

lol...I think USA won't win all 302 gold medals many talents in the world they can't win every matches =)

15 August, 2008 22:07  
Blogger sollee said...

I should go with accdg to number of gold medals too^^...

15 August, 2008 22:29  
Blogger foongpc said...

By right, the winner should be the one with the most gold medals, not the most number of medals. That's how it was for the past Olympics was it not? Anyway, hope China will be the champion this time.

16 August, 2008 02:01  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

elite - just as an example only hehe but ridiculous, right?

sollee - yeah, that shld be the way

foongpc - well, let's see how china performs for the next 1 wk

16 August, 2008 02:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Americans just want to be winners all the time. This is the nation that declares victory even when they loose.

16 August, 2008 02:59  
Blogger Borneo Falcon said...

I also share your opinion on the medal standing. The most gold medals should be ranked first. Probably the American want "face" and do some adjustment in their website

16 August, 2008 09:13  
Blogger eiling lim said...

I think the gold medals should be the evaulation factor. It's not easy to win a gold medal. Well, the Americans are famous in always wanting to be the firsts in everything! They just don't want to recognize China as a winner!

16 August, 2008 09:15  
Blogger Call me A.S for AkiraSabine said...

Hi Johnny,

My instinct tells me your survey qyes is directed to me. Is it true? hahahha.. Not to say I like travelling because of the sights alone but the learning and satisfaction involved.

16 August, 2008 14:21  
Blogger acura said...

It's very bias, try going to the Yahoo Olympics page & you will find the same weird logic on display.

What's worse is that their articles are very bias too. They accused Chinese Gymnast to be underaged without any proof whatsoever. How shameful!

16 August, 2008 17:33  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

cc - hahaha, they did it in another competition?

borneo - can't they standardise it

eiling - this is an olympic war between usa and china

akira - survery was directed to u? LOL! yr instinct very wrong lah hehe

acura - medal standings in usa websites are all the same

17 August, 2008 01:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I understand the standard to rank by number of gold medals. Other than the few countries at the top that could grab many medals that overshadows others, there's a good chance the other countries on the chart might have the same number of medals. How would one rank then?

By the way, I personally don't think it matters. Having one medal is quite satisfying enough. Unless you all are concerned with any side controversies, but leave that comment for another article.

17 August, 2008 02:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the U.S. media is very U.S. centric. But the Chinese media is very China centric. U.S. wants to be the best, China wants to be the best. Let's just say that neither of these two nations has a small ego!

China is way ahead in the gold, and I think they will end up on top.

@ Acura, there's been evidence that the gymnasts' ages have been changed, and this investigation started with The Associated Press before the Games even began (I think Aug 4). They dug out provincial gymnastics meets at which the girls were listed younger. The New York Times followed up. Now even some Chinese media have noticed younger ages in old articles from Xinhua, the Beijing Evening Post and People's Daily. One girl, surnamed He, was said to be 13 only last year. The passports given to the IOC were "correct." But one girl's prior passport had her born on a later date.
The government says this was a "typo", and all the prior news reports were "mistakes"
So either China is really bad at typing up passports and newspapers, or you have something fishy going on.

17 August, 2008 05:00  
Blogger Unknown said...

Another option would be to weight the medals. I actually haven't done the math to see how the rankings would come up, but one possibility would be to grant 3 points for each gold, 2 points for each silver, and 1 point for each bronze. Or, if you want to weight gold a bit higher, then 4 for each gold, 2 for each silver, and 1 point for each bronze.


17 August, 2008 09:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually haven't done the math to see how this would rank countries, but how about the following system. Award 3 points for each gold, 2 points for each silver, and one point for each bronze. If you want to give a bit more to each gold, go with 4,2,1. Then, nations that don't get a lot of gold, but get medals won't be frozen out, but golds rank higher (for good reason).

Just an idea.

17 August, 2008 09:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I clearly recall in 2004 seeing signs in Beijing placing China at the top of the list even though they had neither the top in gold's or overall count.

17 August, 2008 11:08  
Blogger segovia08 said...

What is this strange obsession with gold?

Ranking by overall medals is the international standard, not a ranking system adopted by U.S. media so they can top China.

The IOC has always given medal rankings in this way, and they still do.

Given this international practice, isn't China's obsession with gold precisely the type of "bias" you're talking about?

"It's not easy to win a gold medal"? Sure, and silver and bronze are a walk in the park.

Personally, I was excited as an AMERICAN to see the Chinese swim team win bronze today. What a great surprise.

But I suppose if we're in the midst of an athletic Cold War as all of you seem to be saying, I should have been disappointed.

What an incredibly cynical and narrow view!

17 August, 2008 11:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America has ALWAYS counted medals like this you idiots!!! The only people who care about it are you fenqing retards anyway...

17 August, 2008 12:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that hypothetical is just ridiculous!
Ok, playing your stupid game, let's say China took home every silver and bronze and then Iceland took home ONE gold, who would you rate your analogy and logic Iceland right?!

neither method is without flaw, get off your soapbox!

17 August, 2008 18:34  
Blogger Raj said...

acura, the evidence came from Chinese news resources and even official websites - the ages there meant she couldn't be 16 this year. So your options are to say either:

a) there has been a conspiracy by the Chinese team; or

b) this is an example of the Chinese media's sloppy reporting that they can't even get the age of one of their atheletes right.

As for the medal table, some guys have told me that the US has had this weighting system in use for previous Olympics too. I have seen it used for some athletics events between the US, UK and Russia.

To the blog owner, ask yourself a different question. What if a country wins a large haul of silver and bronze medals (say over 15 in total) but no gold medals. Would it be fair to rank it behind one country that won only just a single medal - one gold?

17 August, 2008 19:13  
Blogger Ted said...

Touched a nerve there for some ppl..but i do agree with you Johnny.

17 August, 2008 20:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corwin's idea of a weighted point system is as close to a balanced decision as possible. Under a weighted point system, China is still performing significantly better than the USA this far

17 August, 2008 22:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

18 August, 2008 01:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

segovia08, according to the website you stated earlier, for past Olympics, the value of the medal always counted above the number of medals:

I agree it should be this way - golds count for much more than silver or bronze or silver+bronze. Whether we like it or not, competitions are designed so that there can only be one winner.

This isn't always biased for China either... take this year's Judo medals. Japan would win by number of golds but China would win by number of medals. I'd put Japan ahead of China for judo ranking in the 2008 olympics because this is the traditional ranking system.

It is tremendously ultra-liberal / socialist to rank a bronze and a silver on an equal platform with gold. We might as well be counting 4th-placed athletes next!!!

18 August, 2008 01:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the weighing system is better! more fair!

18 August, 2008 11:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction ...
KHLim : LOL !!!!! How can people twist and turn the fact that the tally should follow the no of Gold then Silver then Bronze. Read the full lists for 2004 and 2000 carefully. If go by overall no of medals then, Cuba should be No 8 instead of Netherland in 2000, and Germany should be 5 instead of Japan in 2004 .... LOL !!! Dont look at No 1 and 2 only

18 August, 2008 14:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For ppl who think the ranking of the medals should be counted as total number of medals and not the quality of the medals, I understand your logic, but then we should count the paralympic medals as well then. Since you guys think all medals has the same value. (No disrespect to the Paralympic athletes).
Standards are Stadards. Do you think Phelps will be as happy to win 8 bronze as to 8 gold.
Some athletes would probably rather give up their numerous bronze just to get one gold. The question is would you like to be known as the 'Olympic chaimpion' or the 'some other guy who came second'.
I support the gold medal standards.
It encourages the athletes to achieve their best.

18 August, 2008 15:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American always seems to have a way of explaining things. This is how they can lawfully invade another country.

18 August, 2008 16:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a "quantity" and "quality" issue and it is very subjective depending on the position, status, situation you are in. Basically,in sports, the champion is of course the winner. So, the fact is even If China won only one gold medal and USA has all the silvers and bronzes,they are still the looserrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Obviously, there master the Singaporean's motto. "KAISU". Haha


18 August, 2008 17:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think the sports that those medals were earned in would be a factor if one was serious about actually ranking these Olympics (which honestly, one shouldn't be doing anyways, you know the whole premise of bringing all the countries together in peace, etc.). For example, winning a gold in table tennis would not be weighed as much as winning a gold in baseball or basketball. And the judged sports (which could be biased) would be the least weighted.

19 August, 2008 00:44  
Blogger dyonisius.dony said...

For segovia08

I check the website you give. It is based on gold priority first and then silver and then bronze not the overall medal. So China leads the U.S

19 August, 2008 07:17  
Blogger Convivialdingo said...

Speaking as an American - let me be the first to say... I could care less for the ranking of either.

This has been an amazing Olympics - I'm very impressed with the general quality of all the athletes.

Yes, I'm proud of our athletes - but I don't feel bad when they loose fair and square. The Jamaican track team has been amazing. The Chinese gymnasts are incredible. And the American swimmers are rockin! :-)

Really, for me, it's just a joy to watch such amazing feats of athleticism - no matter what team they play for.

20 August, 2008 02:18  
Blogger Simon Ho said...

i think the standings should be based on the number of gold medals because it is just tradition. you can win all the silver medals you want but you will still end up being second best. just my 2 cents.

but whatever it is, it's the sportsmanship that matters. not the medals nor the countries winning them.

20 August, 2008 15:20  
Blogger Unknown said...

In a given competition, gold is clearly more important than silver and bronze. Indeed, I would agree that a single gold medal is more valuable than (or at least equal in value to) a silver and a bronze combined. That having been said, we are talking about a team's performance, not an individuals. Where the team is concerned it seems like all medals have to count for something (and more than breaking ties). Consider women's 100m that Jamaica swept. Should the country get credit for only one medal because they happen to have three top athletes in a single event? It seems like what a lot of "gold only" people are saying here is that we want to measure the number of athletes a country produces that best all other countries athletes in a single event. If that is the case a country that wins a gold and silver or sweeps out to get credit for 2 or 3 medals for this performance.

Clearly this is a nuanced topic with many things to consider but you have to take a step back for a moment and realize that this statistic is clearly not at all important to the IOC. In sports we are constantly refining our methods to ensure that contests are as fair a measure of the various athletes ability as possible. Indeed, rules for individual events are constantly in flux in an attempt to be as fair and balanced as possible. Given all this attention to fairness one would assume the IOC would give some attention to this matter. You could argue that they leave the system alone due to tradition but I would propose that they leave the system alone because they don't consider it to be important. They Olympics are first and foremost individual competitions. Sure, some of the competitions involve teams but the competitions are meant to be considered one at a time rather than all at once. Indeed, the first 8 (or so) games were not even divided by country but rather by team and in many cases teams were comprised of competitors from multiple countries. As such I feel that the games should be enjoyed one event at a time and, while patriotism has its place, that place ought to be rooting for one's country's participants rather than one's country as a whole.

21 August, 2008 12:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the rankings should be based on weighted average, meaning the gold carries a higher weight, and then the silver and then the bronze. if we rank by 'total number of medals' instead (just as what the USA is doing), this assumes the performance of all participants in the olympics are the same, whether they received gold or silver or no medals, without recognition of those who achieved a higher level of performance than others. olympics is about excelling, not about participation ONLY. if the whole idea is only about participating in the games, then perhaps there is no need to track any new world records from time to time. the IOC official) also places a higher weight on the gold, then silver, than bronze as per stated in the Olympic Charter:

22 August, 2008 23:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Afterall, countries who benefits from the "total medals" ranking will support that ranking. Again this shows how naive and immature some countries are, and that they could just easily change the rules as they go along if that particular rule is to their benefit. I would suggest, if these countries want to set new rules, they should derive another olympic event themselves and play it according to the rules they like to set.

22 August, 2008 23:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Counting by total medals is unfair and not showing the true picture, a bigger country who can afford to let more athletes participate in the games obviously has more chance to win any type of medals in each game, this is only about higher probability - thus the big countries result in higher total number of medals and are ranked higher!! how unfair!!

how about a smaller country who has a few excellent athletes who all win gold medals in the games but their total number of medals could be so low that it would only render them in the bottom of the list.

22 August, 2008 23:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of whining about how unfair it is, why not propose a solution?

Give a gold 3 points, silver 2 points, bronze 1 point. Simple enough. Multiply through the medal table.

US and China both with 200 "points." Seems pretty even, doesn't it? Russia distant 3rd with 109, then Britain with 93.

Based on medal table showing:
China: 89 (47G, 17S, 25B)
USA : 102 (31G, 36S, 35B)

I would also be interested in doing a "relativistic" count based on the number of competitors you have at the games (and even national population): having a team of one get one gold is far more impressive than having 200 people and only 1 gold.

23 August, 2008 09:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the weighted system, as of the known medal count at 9:30pm PST, with the gold weighted at 4pts., silver at 2pts., and bronze at 1pt., then the standings have China at 247 points and the USA at 231 points. Funnily enough, if the gold's weight is reduced to 3pts., then the USA and China are TIED at 200 points apiece. Ain't math funny?

23 August, 2008 12:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


US media has always ranked based on Gold in the past and changed it now to MISLEAD the American public for political reasons.

An example from ESPN/NBC-Olympics is one of the many US media pathetic attempts to mislead their viewers. Check out the past medal tallies, ranked by Gold, not total medals. Pay attention at how the other countries are ranked.

Barcelona 1992:

Atlanta 1996:

Sydney 2000:

Athens 2004:

Beijing 2008:

If the US media believes the value of a silver medal is equal to a gold, I guess they should feel alright to rank US in second spot, after China.. since being a runner-up is the same as being the champion, after all. But, they changed the ranking method.


The Star-Spangled Banner was played 31 times compared to China's national anthem's 48 times.

Perhaps, someone should ask Michael Phelps if he prefers 9 silvers or 10 bronzes over the 8 golds? Hmmmph, I wonder.

I am sure if you ask the NBA players if they would choose to be NBA runner-ups twice over NBA champion once. Think you have to buy your own championship ring as runner ups. Hmmmph, I wonder.

If you argue how to rank Nation A with 1 Gold lower compared to Nation B with 10 Silvers and 10 Bronzes, you should simply ask "who has won?" Nation A produces an Olympic champion while Nation B has failed to do so, but is acknowledged with consolation medals to drive them to do better the next time.

How would you rank if Nation A has only 30 bronzes and no golds or silvers, compared to Nation B who has won 29 Golds only?

Hypothetically as someone pointed out, if the US win all 302 Gold medals and China has the rest the silver and bronze medals, 604, who should emerge the overall champion? Hmmmph, I wonder.

Even if you were to rank by point system, you should ask yourself if you would prefer to have 1 Gold or 2 Silvers? 1 Silver or 2 Bronzes?

If you base on this 2:1 ratio, you can award Gold medal 4 points, Silver medal 2 points and Bronze medal 1 point. Then you can decide if China still rank higher than US.

China Gold 48 Silver 17 Bronze 27 yields a total of 253 points.
USA Gold 31 Silver 36 Bronze 36 yields a total of 232 points.

30% of US' total 103 medals, to date, are Gold medals. 52% of China's total 92 medals, to date, are Gold medals.

China also triumphs in more sports categories, compared to US.

American should be proud of what their atheletes have achieved, especially Michael Phelps, hailed as the greatest Olympian to date and they should acknowledge China's victory at the same time and not act like a SORE LOSER, not accepting defeat gracefully in the true spirits of the Olympics.

Shame on the US media but the world can award them a GOLD medal for "misleading media category".

I wonder how they think when they try to win the best ratings or best media awards. Should they go for 2nd or 3rd place? Hmmmph.

The links I provided above tells it all. Changing the ranking to total medal count from Gold medal this Olympic to maintain US at the top.

Perhaps, if China do overtake US in total medal count, they would stat to rank US at the top based on Silver medals, as I don't think China can beat US in the Silver medal race.

23 August, 2008 20:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the real issue here is that the US is not willing to accept its second position.Just imagine what China will be like if she shared the same recent historic paths as the West,had black slavery and an open arm immigration policy like US/West.Then we all won't be here trying to come up with what's fair and what's not in this bean-counting system.

24 August, 2008 10:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like the vietnam war...

24 August, 2008 21:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all take yourselves, your opinions and your political point of view entirely too seriously. I am an American living in Mongolia. Mongolia has just won its second gold medal. The people in Mongolia have poured into the streets, and they are elated. My sense is they could care less about the Vietname war or who you all think aspire to hegemony. They are not number one or number. They just love and respect the athletes that have represented their country so well. The most famous song being played in pubs around the capital city of Ulaanbaatar right now is, "We are the Champions"...of the World. So which of you are going to question their right to feel that way. No doubt the rankings in the Mongolian press tomorrow will put Mongolia on top. For them it is true, no matter how you count it.

25 August, 2008 00:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to give it to the Brits this time despite the behavior of one of their swimmers.They finished as number 4 this time and they are very happy about it,and number 4 is also what they target for the 2012 London Olympics right on their home turf.Guess who once said "the sun never sets in ..." and now they've adjusted very well to the humor as being called the "sunsetters".The world is always moving forward.My advice to America is,learn from the British and we'll live in peace.By the way,the term "Post-American" had been used in the European media for a long time now.

25 August, 2008 01:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the American living in Mongolia: just curious,what do you do for "living" in Mongolia? No offense intended,cos China is a long way from the states,let alone Mongolia.

25 August, 2008 02:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that all of you are looking at the wrong websites. You should be looking at the International sporting bodies that the US sporting bodies are members of, NOT the media. The sporting bodies dictate how the US sporting bodies officially regard the medals tally.

Since the USA got 55 medals (50% of all medals) from athletics (IAAF) and swimming (FINA) let's look at their websites:

Guess what? They're in order of gold. This is from an OFFICIAL SPORTS PUBLICATION/BODY, not media speculation or misrepresentation.

Regarding the suggestion that ESPN always quoted medals in order of total, I am afraid that this is incorrect. From the ESPN website itself:
* 1984 Los Angeles (USA!!) - ranked by GOLD -
* 1988 Seoul (South Korea) - ranked by GOLD -
* 1992 Barcelona (Spain) - ranked by GOLD -
* 1996 Atlanta (USA!!) - ranked by GOLD -
* 2000 Sydney (Australia) - ranked by GOLD -
* 2004 Athens (Greece) - ranked by GOLD -

The two Olympics on USA home territory were ranked by GOLD.

So what has changed? Obviously the US media! I hate seeing them treat Americans like this, as though they are dumb. How can the US get more gold than the rest of the world if they believe that a total is better?

Will we next see Americans saying that getting 2nd in the NFL is better than winning the superbowl because you get a prize for 2nd as well as for 1st?

If you go to foreign (to the US) MSN websites you'll see it's also listed in rank of gold. MSNBC is the only MSN website that lists it by total.

25 August, 2008 15:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd just found on the Wall Street Journal the Americans just found a new way to rank the medals:
Boy,aren't they innovative?I suggest that maybe we can use National debt/capita/gold,trade defeceit/capita/gold,foreign reserves/capita/gold,jobless rate/capita/gold,etc,etc...

25 August, 2008 17:04  

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