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definition - Olympic_medal_table

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Olympic medal table

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The Olympic medal table is a method of sorting the medal placements of countries in the modern day Olympics.[1] Officially, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not recognize a ranking of participating countries at the Olympic Games.[2] Nevertheless, the IOC does publish medal tables for informational purposes, showing the total number of medals earned by athletes representing each country's respective National Olympic Committee.[3][4] The convention used by the IOC is to sort by the number of gold medals the athletes from a country have earned. In the event of a tie in the number of gold medals, the number of silver medals is taken into consideration, and then the number of bronze medals. If two countries have an equal number of gold, silver, and bronze medals, they are ordered in the table alphabetically by their IOC country code.



The Olympic Charter, Chapter 1, section 6 states that:

The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries …

—International Olympic Committee[5]

The Charter goes even further in Chapter 5, section 58, expressly prohibiting the IOC from producing an official ranking:

The IOC and the OCOG shall not draw up any global ranking per country. A roll of honour bearing the names of medal winners and those awarded diplomas in each event shall be established by the OCOG and the names of the medal winners shall be featured prominently and be on permanent display in the main stadium.

—International Olympic Committee

According to Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper, the IOC began to accommodate medals tables in 1992, releasing 'information' based on the 'gold first' standard.[2] The medal tables provided on its website carry this disclaimer:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not recognise global ranking per country; the medal tables are displayed for information only. Furthermore, the results that we publish are official and are taken from the "Official Report" - a document published for each Olympic Games by the Organising Committee. However, for the first Olympic Games (until Antwerp in 1920), it is difficult to give the exact number of medals awarded to some countries, due to the fact that teams were composed of athletes from different countries. The medal tables by country are based on the number of medals won, with gold medals taking priority over silver and bronze. A team victory counts as one medal.

—International Olympic Committee[6]

Ranking systems

"I believe each country will highlight what suits it best. One country will say, 'Gold medals.' The other country will say, 'The total tally counts.' We take no position on that."
IOC President Jacques Rogge[7]

As the IOC does not consider its sorting of nations to be an official ranking system, various methods of ranking nations are used. The 'gold first' ranking system described above is used by most of the world media, as well as the IOC. However, in the United States it is more common to publish medal tables ordered by the total number of medals won,[8][9][10][11][12] although the gold first ranking has been used on occasion.[13][14] This difference in rankings has its origins in the early days of the Olympics, when the IOC did not publish or recognise medal tables.[2] Before 2008, the difference in ranking system received scant notice, since in recent Olympic history the country that led in total medals also led in the gold count. China and the U.S. bucked this trend at the 2008 Summer Olympics, topping the gold and total medal tallies respectively.[15] In an August 24, 2008 news conference, IOC President Jacques Rogge confirmed that the IOC does not have a view on any particular ranking system.[7]

Another ranking system in use is the per-capita ranking, where the number of medals is divided by the population of the country.[16] Using this ranking system, it is more difficult for a country with a large population such as China or the United States to top the rankings.[17]

Systematic rankings based upon a weighted point system with the most points awarded to a gold medal have also been devised. In 1908 the British press invented a ranking system based on tallying, awarding gold medals 5 points, silver medals 3 and bronzes 1.[15] In response to the 2008 controversy over medal rank, a New York Times article on the subject listed a points system, with 1 point awarded for every bronze medal won, 2 points for every silver medal, and 4 points for every gold medal won.[18] Using this measure, China was listed above the United States.

See also


  1. ^ "Overall Medal Standings - Beijing 2008 Olympic Games". Beijing 2008 official website. http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Ian (2008-08-13). "Who's on First in Medals Race". The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/article/SB121856271893833843.html?mod=psp_free_today. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  3. ^ "Athens 2004–Medal Table". International Olympic Committee. http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/past/table_uk.asp?OLGT=1&OLGY=2004. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  4. ^ Araton, Harvey (2008-08-18). "A Medal Count That Adds Up To Little". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/sports/olympics/19araton.html?_r=1&ref=sports. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  5. ^ "Olympic Charter". International Olympic Committee. 2007-07-07. http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  6. ^ "Olympic Games Athens 1896 - Medal Table". International Olympic Committee. http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/past/table_uk.asp?OLGT=1&OLGY=1896. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  7. ^ a b Shipley, Amy (2008-08-25). "China's Show of Power". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/24/AR2008082400851.html?hpid=topnews. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  8. ^ Eason, Kevin (2008-08-25). "America refuses to accept defeat in Olympic medal count". The Times (UK). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4599875.ece. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  9. ^ Flyan, Kevin (2008-08-19). "Who’s top of the medals table?". Reuters. http://blogs.reuters.com/china/2008/08/19/whos-top-of-the-medals-table/. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  10. ^ Wetzel, Dan (2008-08-22). "U.S. will be rocked by China’s heavy medals". Yahoo! Sports. http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/news?slug=dw-medalcount082208&prov=yhoo&type=lgns. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  11. ^ Pells, Eddie (2008-03-05). "US, China set low Olympic expectations". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2008-03-05-2600371400_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  12. ^ Paul, Alan (2008-08-16). "Different measures of success in race for gold". NBC Olympics. http://www.2008.nbcolympics.com/destinationbeijing/blogs/postid=221688.html#different+measures+success+race+gold. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  13. ^ Adams, Richard (2008-08-14). "Olympics: America turns the tables". The Guardian (UK). http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2008/aug/14/bustedhowamericaturnedthe. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  14. ^ Ruddick, Graham (2008-08-22). "US accused of medal table spin". The Telegraph (UK). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/2602029/US-accused-of-medal-table-spin---Beijing-Olympics-2008.html. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  15. ^ a b Hardaway, Robert (2008-08-22). "Weighing Olympic gold". The Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-hardaway22-2008aug22,0,52982.story. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  16. ^ Donovan, Brooke (2008-08-21). "We are second in medals table-behind Slovenia". New Zealand Herald. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10528184. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  17. ^ "Jamaica 2nd in per capita medals". www.sportscaribe.com (Jamaica). http://sportscaribe.com/olympics/2008/?id=25. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  18. ^ Klein, Jeff (2008-08-17). "The Medal Rankings: Which Country Leads the Olympics?". New York Times. http://beijing2008.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/23/the-medal-rankings-which-country-leads-the-olympics/. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 


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