Olympic Costs – Rio 2016 and Future Projections

This is a revision of a post I did last week on Olympic costs, related to the recent announcement of Rio 2016 costs. I withdrew the post when an error was noted in parts of one column. Unfortunately that column affected several others, so I had to re-do the stats. Thanx to Rich Perelman who noted an error on the numbers for LA 1984, which alerted me to the error in that column.

This revision will be some of what I presented last week, but the revision of the data actually revealed some stats that were new to me and could be important in predicting participation figures and Organizing Committee (OCOG) costs at future Olympic Games, so I will discuss those in some detail. This will be somewhat of a long post but I think an important one.

The Rio de Janeiro Organizing Committee announced the final budget figures for the 2016 Olympics, with expenses of $13.1 billion (US). A huge number and well over the original projected expenses predicted during Rio’s candidature – the Oxford Olympics 2016 Study had Rio costs estimated as $4.6 billion. As I’ll discuss further on, candidature projected expenses are usually not close to the final numbers, but perhaps this post can help with that.

So how expensive was Rio relative to other recent Olympics? We’re only going to look at the numbers since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which really started the “modern” era (post-television) of Olympic Games. The table below gives the figures for final expenses given by the Organizing Committees in their final reports. More important is to know how these are corrected against inflation (using US dollar inflation from historical data), which is noted in the right-hand column. The numbers below are given in millions (106) of US dollars, with 2000 as the benchmark year, so $1926 = $1,926,000,000. You can see how important the inflation corrections (IC) are. Tokyo 1964 spent $1.926 billion, but in actuality that would be $11.788 billion in 2000 dollars, more expensive in real dollars than any recent Games except Beijing.

Year Host City 106$ IC
1964 Tokyo $1926 $11788
1968 Mexico City $175 $979
1972 Munich $612 $2793
1976 Montréal $1383 $4636
1980 Moscow $2000 $4841
1984 Los Angeles $546 $931
1988 Seoul $4047 $6021
1992 Barcelona $7000 $8616
1996 Atlanta $1686 $1849
2000 Sydney $2279 $2279
2004 Athens $11600 $10500
2008 Beijing $30486 $24493
2012 London $10778 $7988
2016 Rio de Janeiro $13100 $9212

However, Beijing 2008 was a much, much bigger Olympics than Tokyo 1964. Beijing hosted 203 nations, 10,901 athletes, and 302 events; while Tokyo only hosted 93 nations, 5,137 athletes, and 163 events. A huge difference.

The important comparison between Games appears to be to use constant dollars, correcting for inflation, but also to correct for the number of athletes competing, and the number of events held.  You can do a regression analysis and see that both of those factors, as they increase, also increase OCOG costs – I’ll spare you that analysis. More athletes cost more – you have to feed them, house them, and protect them, and some organizing committees also provide travel expenses for some nations’ athletes. More events greatly increase costs because it often means new venues to be built, more security issues for each event, and more facility and personnel costs for each event.

I’ve used this before, but it turns out that the most effective comparison comes when you use the expenses, per athlete, per event, corrected for inflation, which I term EPAECI

EPAECI = expenses / (athletes * events), corrected for inflation

Now let’s see how Rio comes out when we do this comparison.

Year Host City IC Athletes Events EPAECI
1964 Tokyo $11788 5137 163 $14078
1968 Mexico City $978 5557 172 $1024
1972 Munich $2792 7113 195 $2014
1976 Montréal $4636 6073 198 $3856
1980 Moscow $4840 5259 203 $4534
1984 Los Angeles $931 6798 221 $620
1988 Seoul $6020 8453 237 $3005
1992 Barcelona $8616 9386 257 $3572
1996 Atlanta $1848 10340 271 $660
2000 Sydney $2279 10648 300 $713
2004 Athens $10499 10561 301 $3303
2008 Beijing $24493 10901 302 $7440
2012 London $7988 10519 302 $2515
2016 Rio de Janeiro $9212 11182 306 $2692

The last column is the important one – EPAECI – the statistic of interest, and now Rio 2016 doesn’t look so bad. In fact their EPAECI of $2,692 compares favorably to recent Olympics. Its almost the same as London, and less than Athens 2004, Barcelona 1992, and Seoul 1988. Many of the Games from 1964-2016 had an EPAECI in the $2,500-$3,000 range, and Rio was on the low end of that range. Admittedly the $13.1 billion was well above original projections, but below I’ll show how we can likely actually predict what the final number might be, based only on two relatively known factors.

Here is what the EPAECI looks like graphically:

A couple things stand out from this comparison. Tokyo 1964 is by far the most expensive Olympic Games of all-time (summer only – Sochi crushes it including the Winter Games). In fact, Rome 1960 had an EPAECI of $571 so the cost inflation at Tokyo 1964 is an Olympic record of sorts. Secondly, Beijing 2008 is the second most expensive Olympics ever, at a $7,440 EPAECI, which most people probably suspected. Thirdly, Rio now does not look like quite so bad in that chart, does it?

Further, 9 Olympics from the cohort of 14 were fairly similar – there were the expensive outliers of Tokyo 1964 and Beijing 2008, and the parsimonious outliers of Los Angeles 1984, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000, but there are not major differences between the other 9 Olympics Games in term of EPAECI.

One might say that Montreal 1976 and Moscow 1980 were over the historical average, but I would argue that they were not. Both Olympics had boycotts – 1976 by African nations opposed to a recent New Zealand rugby team visiting South Africa in the era of apartheid; and 1980 by a US-led boycott over the recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Only 92 nations competed at Montreal, and 80 at Moscow, versus 121 at Munich in 1972. About 30 nations boycotted Montreal, and circa 60 boycotted Moscow – it’s not easy to be precise about those numbers. So there should have been about 122 nations at Montreal, and 140 at Moscow, and Montreal and Moscow planned for that many nations, and the requisite increased number of athletes, and spent money based on that planning. If you assume constant numbers of athletes per NOC, Montreal would have had 8,053 athletes and Moscow 9,203. Using those numbers the EPAECI for Montreal comes in at $2,908, and Moscow at $2,591, well within the historical $2,500-$3,000 range.

Finally, three Olympics stand out for their penury – Los Angeles 1984, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000. What do they have in common? None of them were government-run Olympics, with all of them run as businesses that had to balance the books – and they did. These Olympics prove it can be done, but not by increasing costs at every corner, and trying to out-do the previous OCOG, or keeping up with the Joneses. Peter Ueberroth started this policy with Los Angeles 1984. Not always well liked while he was doing it, he should be applauded for showing how it can be done.

Of note, using the arguments above for Montreal and Moscow, the smaller 1984 boycott also makes Los Angeles 1984 look even better, as their EPAECI could have been as low as $560, a number not seen since Melbourne 1956.

However, OCOGs cannot keep costs low if they are forced to add more and more athletes and more and more events, and that is a problem. Rio had 306 events. Tokyo 2020 will likely have 339 events, with the recently announced addition of 15 events, and addition of 5 new sports (18 events) – baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing.

The onus, therefore, is on the IOC to decrease costs by minimizing the number of events and keeping the number of athletes as low as possible. The Olympic 2000 Commission, formed ad hoc after the 1999 Olympic Bribery Scandal, recommended maxima of 10,000 athletes, and 300 events. No Summer Olympics since 2000 has achieved either goal.

As I studied the data in looking carefully at the EPAECI, I realized that there is a way to predict how many athletes will compete at an Olympic Games, and it’s very accurate. Since we have reached the 21st century era of 200+ nations competing, and circa 300 events, the following formula has accurately predicted (within 1.5% in each case), the number of athletes that will compete at the Olympics:

Athletes = # Nations * # Events * 0.174

So since the IOC wants every nation to compete, the only effective way to keep down the number of athletes competing is to limit the number of events. Unfortunately, it seems to be going the other way. The only other factor that can be changed in the above formula is the 0.174, which would require having fewer athletes per nation, probably limiting the number of athletes allowed per event, or having stricter qualifying standards.

Now given that we can predict how many athletes compete, it dawned on me that we can also reasonably predict the costs of future Olympic Games. These are not the costs projected by Bid Committees, but actual costs that the OCOG will announce in their final reports. As Dick Pound once said, “Some of the greatest fiction can be found in bid committee books.”

We saw above that most (9/14) Olympics (since 1964) have had an EPAECI in the $2,500-$3,000 range, and I just showed how can we predict the number of athletes that will compete. The number of NOCs competing is now going to be pretty constant at 206 – there are just not many nations left in the world that could compete. If we know the number of events, since we can use NOC = 206, we can use our EPAECI range to estimate final Olympic costs. Let’s see how this works out for 2020-2028, comparing them to 2008-2016. Here we have to project US dollar inflation in the future, and I have used 2.5%/year, which is close to the historical mean.

We have to pick an EPAECI # for Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024, and Los Angeles 2028 (assuming that is how it works out). Tokyo 2020 seems to be overrunning cost estimates, and its previous Olympics set a very poor example, so I will use EPAECI = $3,000 for 2020, on the high end. I will assume Paris 2024 can come in on the low side, so will use EPAECI = $2,500. For Los Angeles 2028, I will go very low, since LA84 was only $620 (or $560 – see above), and Atlanta 1996 was only $660. It appears US-based Olympics (and Sydney 2000), run as businesses, can contain costs. I will not go that low for 2028 but will choose EPAECI = $1,000, well below historical average, but above recent US-Games precedents. In the below table, I have also projected slight increases in number of events for 2024 and 2028. Here are the predicted costs:

Year Host NOCs Athlts Evnts EPAECI 106$ IC
2008 Beijing 203 10901 302 $7440 $30486 $24493
2012 London 203 10519 302 $2515 $10778 $7988
2016 Rio 206 11182 306 $2692 $13100 $9212
2020 Tokyo 206 12150 339 $3000 $19395 $12357
2024 Paris 206 12260 342 $2500 $18161 $10482
2028 LA 206 12360 345 $1000 $8155 $4266

The last 2 columns show the projections, first in actual dollars, and then corrected for inflation. Paris 2024 would come in cheaper than Tokyo 2020, but actually more expensive than London or Rio, and that is because of the increased number of events.

Here are what the figures look like, graphically, first in actual and predicted dollars, and then corrected for inflation:

You can see in the above chart how good LA 2028 would look, cost-wise, and also that Paris 2024 will likely come in relatively more expensive than Rio 2016, due to the increased number of events.

Los Angeles 2028 could be the least expensive Olympics since Sydney 2000, at just over $8.1 billion. Since previous US-based Olympics, and Sydney, had EPAECI much lower than $1,000, that estimate for Los Angeles may well be high. Further, I suspect that number for LA 2028 is high, because all of its venues are already built, as opposed to most OCOGs.

There are several take home points from this analysis. 1) Olympic costs are related to the number of athletes competing and the number of events contested, two parameters that are largely outside of OCOG control, but actually controlled by IOC decisions; 2) The IOC can only control these Olympic costs by limiting the number of events contested, although they are going in the other direction, or by limiting the number of athletes per event and per nation, either by having less athletes per nation in each event, or with stricter qualifying standards; 3) Rio 2016 exceeded its predicted costs by a significant factor, but it was not relatively more expensive than recent Games; 4) This highlights that early predictions of Olympic costs by OCOGs are invariably low, and should be looked at with a jaundiced eye; 5) The future number of potential athletes competing can be predicted fairly accurately with a simple formula; 6) Using the predicted number of athletes competing, reasonable estimates can be made of potential Olympic costs using the EPAECI factor. The EPAECI-predicted costs will almost certainly exceed the predicted costs announced by bid committees and OCOGs; and finally, 7) Olympic costs have been well-controlled in the past 50 years by OCOGs that have not been government-run but run as businesses with a careful eye on the bottom line. It can be done.

Olympic Program Metastasis

The IOC today announced multiple changes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Programme, adding numerous mixed events, several “street” events (such as 3×3 hoops), and trying to equalize the program by genders. One thing this will do, however, is greatly increase the size of the 2020 Olympics, something the IOC has been trying to ward off.

In 2000, in the wake of the Olympic Bribery Scandal, the IOC formed the IOC 2000 Commission to look at ways to revise the Olympic Movement and Games. Two of the recommendations were to limit the size of the Summer Olympics to 300 events and 10,000 athletes. Rio 2016 had 306 events and 11,182 athletes, and no Olympics since 2000 has had less than 10,500 competitors.

The IOC announced that there will now be 321 events at Tokyo, and by limiting athlete quotas in many sports, will decrease the number of competitors by 285 athletes. However, they did not take into account the 5 new proposed sports, which have been assumed to be a fait accompli – baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. If one looks at the IOC’s own publication on this – see  https://stillmed.olympic.org/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/…/Olympic-Pr…  – that would add another 18 events, bringing the total to 339 events for Tokyo 2020. Further, the IOC is projecting 474 additional athletes in the new sports, which more than eliminates the savings from the new sports quotas. This would bring the projected Rio total to about 11,500 athletes, and I would not be surprised to see it reach close to 12,000.

Here is how the Summer Olympic program has expanded since WW2:

Events Men Wom Mix Tot Increase Men% Women%
1948 112 19 5 136 5.4% 86.0% 17.6%
1952 117 25 7 149 9.6% 83.2% 21.5%
1956 116 26 9 151 1.3% 82.8% 23.2%
1960 113 29 8 150 -0.7% 80.7% 24.7%
1964 119 33 11 163 8.7% 79.8% 27.0%
1968 115 39 18 172 5.5% 77.3% 33.1%
1972 132 43 20 195 13.4% 77.9% 32.3%
1976 130 49 19 198 1.5% 75.3% 34.3%
1980 134 50 19 203 2.5% 75.4% 34.0%
1984 144 62 15 221 8.9% 71.9% 34.8%
1988 151 72 14 237 7.2% 69.6% 36.3%
1992 159 86 12 257 8.4% 66.5% 38.1%
1996 163 97 11 271 5.4% 64.2% 39.9%
2000 168 120 12 300 10.7% 60.0% 44.0%
2004 166 125 10 301 0.3% 58.5% 44.9%
2008 165 127 10 302 0.3% 57.9% 45.4%
2012 162 132 8 302 0.0% 56.3% 46.4%
2016 161 136 9 306 1.3% 55.6% 47.4%
2020 156 147 18 321 4.9% 54.2% 51.4%
2020Plus 165 156 18 339 10.8% 54.0% 51.3%

2020Plus are the numbers assuming the 5 new sports are accepted as proposed. That would come to 339 events and a 10.8% increase over the size of the Olympic Program. Since 1948 that will be the second biggest increase, after a 13.4% increase for Munich 1972. It is also about the same as Sydney 2000, which increased by 10.7%. The Munich increase was driven by a few new sports (archery, handball, and judo returned to the program after missing 1968), and new weight classes for men in weightlifting and wrestling. The Sydney increase was from a few new sports / disciplines (trampoline, triathlon, taekwondo), but mainly from adding women’s sports and events – modern pentathlon, water polo, weightlifting.

If you look at the table you will see the IOC is approaching gender equity with the program. Women will be able to compete in 51.3% of the 2020Plus Program, while men will be eligible in 54.0% of the Program (it adds to > 100% because of mixed events).

That is admirable and there are certainly no complaints about it. It follows Bach’s proposals in Agenda 2020 to have an event-based program instead of a sport-based one, and to achieve gender equity. But with a proposed 339 events, and maybe approaching 12,000 athletes, one has to wonder when the current era is one in which cities are refusing to bid for Olympics because they have become too big and too expensive. It may require further IOC legerdemain to reverse that trend.

Oldest Living Olympians

Adolph Kiefer died this morning (5 May) at his home in Wadsworth, Illinois. He was 1 month shy of 99-years-old. Kiefer was the world’s greatest backstroker in the 1930s and won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in the 100 backstroke. At his death he was the seond oldest living Olympic medalist and gold medalist.

Our OlyMADMen group has one remarkable guy, Canadian Paul, actually known as Paul Tchir, whose hobby is studying the ages of Olympians and determining the oldest living this or that. He has a private Wikipedia page where he tracks these – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Canadian_Paul/Olympics.

For the record here are the current oldest Olympian records, courtesy of Canadian Paul’s webpage.

Oldest Living Olympian / US Olympian

John Lysak           16 Aug 1914   None      USA               1936 WLT


Oldest Living Olympic Medalist

Clara Marangoni    13 Nov 1915   Silver      ITA                1928 GYM


Oldest Living Olympic Gold Medalist

Durward Knowles  02 Nov 1917   Gold       BAH/GBR       Multiple SAI


Oldest Living US Olympic Medalist

John Russell         02 Feb 1920   Bronze    USA               1948 EQU


Oldest Living US Olympic Gold Medalist

Cliff Bourland        01 Jan 1921    Gold       USA               1948 ATH


For the record, besides Lysak, there is one other US Olympian still alive from the 1936 Berlin Olympics – Iris Cummings, a swimmer who was born 21 December 1920. Canadian Paul lists 9 Olympians in all still alive from those Games. There are no known Olympians alive from the 1932 Olympics, although Clara Marangoni (above) competed at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Winter Olympic All-Time Medal Table Predictions

With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games now less than 10 months away, I have started looking at some stats related to the Winter Olympics. Since I often work with the US Olympic Committee at the Olympics, this has also entailed looking at @TeamUSA stats. One interesting stat is that the USA has won 96 gold medals at the Winter Olympics, and barring a complete reversal of recent performances, will go over 100 in PyeongChang.

I was also interested in how the USA stacks up on the overall medal list, and I noted that they are second, behind Norway in both gold medals and total medals won, but also that, over the last few Winter Olympics, they have moving up the list. The top four nations at the Olympic Games, in terms of medals won, are as follows:

1 Norway 118 113 101 332
2 United States 96 103 85 284
3 Germany 87 85 58 230
4 Austria 59 78 81 218

I’m not going to look any further at Austria. It looks like it is close to the top 3 nations, only slightly behind Germany, but in fact, it is much further behind than the above stats reveal. That is because Germany only includes medals won as a combined Germany, and from 1968-88 both West Germany (FRG) and East Germany (GDR) competed and if you include those medals, Austria is far behind.

Over the last few Olympics, the USA has improved a great deal and seemed to be closing in on Norway in terms of medals won and golds won. I was curious if this trend continued, when the USA might overtake Norway, if they did at all, or perhaps Germany might also do so.

Germany would be ahead now if the country had not been divided. Counting Germany and the GDR, they would have 126 gold medals and 340 medals, and lead both lists. Counting Germany and West Germany, they would have 98 golds, and 269 medals, distancing Austria. If you count a combined German team, counting all German medals, they have 137 golds and 379 medals, far ahead in both categories. That is, however, somewhat of a specious argument as from 1968-88 such a United Germany would have had 6-8 competitors in many individual events, far more than usually allowed.

For future predictions, the important years to look at are 1992-2014, because in 1992 Germany was again a unified nation. In addition, in the 21st century, Norway has not led the medal list, either in golds, or total medals, at any Winter Olympics, except for golds in 2002. It would appear that both Germany and the United States are catching up.

So are Norway’s days at the top of the Winter Olympics medal table numbered? We looked at the average number of golds and medals won at each Winter Olympics since 1992 by Norway, Germany, and the USA. We then predicted what would happen at the next few Winter Olympics, if all three nations continued to win medals at the same rate they have since 1992.

Here’s what the table looks like, going from 1992-2070:

Year NOC G Meds NOC G Meds NOC G Meds
1992 NOR 63 188 USA 47 134 GER 25 63
1994 NOR 73 214 USA 53 147 GER 34 87
1998 NOR 83 239 USA 59 160 GER 46 116
2002 NOR 96 264 USA 69 194 GER 58 152
2006 NOR 98 283 USA 78 219 GER 69 181
2010 NOR 107 306 USA 87 256 GER 79 211
2014 NOR 118 332 USA 96 284 GER 87 230
2018 NOR 127 356 USA 104 309 GER 97 258
2022 NOR 136 380 USA 112 334 GER 108 286
2026 NOR 146 404 USA 121 359 GER 118 314
2030 NOR 155 428 USA 129 384 GER 128 341
2034 NOR 164 452 USA 137 409 GER 139 369
2038 NOR 173 476 USA 145 434 GER 149 397
2042 NOR 182 500 USA 153 459 GER 159 425
2046 NOR 191 524 USA 161 484 GER 170 453
2050 NOR 201 548 USA 170 509 GER 180 481
2054 NOR 210 572 USA 178 534 GER 190 508
2058 NOR 219 596 USA 186 559 GER 201 536
2062 NOR 228 620 USA 194 584 GER 211 564
2066 NOR 237 644 USA 202 609 GER 221 592
2070 NOR 246 668 USA 210 634 GER 232 620

That’s a pretty busy table but here is what the chart of these projected medal tables look like:

As you can see in this chart, Norway starts out ahead in medals and gold medals, and stays ahead through 2070, although Germany and the United States both close the gaps slightly.

So will the USA or Germany topple Norway from the top of the Winter Olympic medal table? Not in my lifetime, and probably not in this century, unless things change.

Now it may be that they will change. The trend has been to add more and more X-generation and X-Games sports, such as freestyle skiing and snowboarding, and the United States has excelled at these sports. Germany not so much, but Germany is dominant in sliding sports. Unfortunately they’ve run out of them since we have sports going down the mountain sitting (bobsled), lying prone (skeleton), and lying supine (luge). I’m not sure how else they can slide down the mountain, unless they come up with a standing sliding event – ice surfing?

The above also assumes that the number of events on the Winter Olympics Program will remain about the same. The IOC has tended to add more and more events, but there are not many more Winter Olympic sports to add, and it’s hard to predict how these numbers may change if the number of events increases. It will depend on which events are added, whether they favor traditional winter events, favoring Norway, or they add X-sports, favoring the United States, and less so, Germany.

So for the foreseeable future, unless the Winter Olympic Program drastically changes, I think Norway will continue to lead the all-time Winter Olympic medal table through the 21st century.


2008-2012 Doping Re-Tests – An Update

In late November 2016 Hilary Evans (@OlyStatman) and I published a blog on this site about the IOC (International Olympic Committee) re-testing of the 2008-12 Olympic drug tests. In that blog, we noted that there were 104 positive tests for doping at those 2 Games, and gave details of which nations, which sports, and which drugs were involved. Please see http://olympstats.com/2016/11/28/summary-of-the-ioc-re-testing-from-2008-2012-to-date/ for the original summary.

Since that blog was published the re-testing has gone on, and the IOC has actually had six further releases in IOC News, announcing further sanctions. As a result, the 104 positive tests number is now only a memory, and today’s blog is to give a further update on the current status of the IOC re-tests from the 2008-12 Olympics.

As of 1 April 2017, there have now been 182 positive drug tests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, which includes the original positive tests and the positive re-tests over the previous 20 months or so. Of these, there were 81 positives from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and 101 from the 2012 London Olympics. Of these 182 positives, 9 athletes tested positive at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, so there have been 173 athletes sanctioned. The 9 doping Grand Slam winners are as follows, with Ilyin losing 2 gold medals and Ostapchuk losing a gold and a bronze:

Name Gender NOC Sport
Andrey Mikhnevich M BLR ATH
Hripsime Khurshudyan F ARM WLT
Ilya Ilyin M KAZ WLT
İntiqam Zairov M AZE WLT
Irina Kulesha F BLR WLT
Ivan Tikhon M BLR ATH
Maiya Maneza F KAZ WLT
Nadezhda Ostapchuk F BLR ATH
Oksana Menkova F BLR ATH

In the above, you will note that 5 athletes were from Belarus and 2 from Kazakhstan. Of the 182 sanctions given, the national breakdown is as follows:

NOC ###
Russia 48
Belarus 23
Ukraine 18
Turkey 14
Kazakhstan 12
Azerbaijan 6
Moldova 5
Armenia 4
China 4
Greece 4
Brazil 3
Spain 3
Germany 3
United States 3
Colombia 2
Cuba 2
Italy 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Morocco 2
Norway 2
Qatar 2
Uzbekistan 2
Albania 1
Bahrain 1
Bulgaria 1
Croatia 1
Cyprus 1
France 1
Georgia 1
Ireland 1
Jamaica 1
Poland 1
DPR Korea (North) 1
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1
Slovenia 1
Syria 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Vietnam 1
Total 182

Of these, 65.4% are from former Soviet nations. While quite high, that is better than in the 28 November 2016 blog, when, of the 104 positive tests, 82.7% came from former Soviet nations.

The breakdown by sport is as follows:

Sport ###
Athletics 103
Weightlifting 50
Equestrian Events 7
Cycling 6
Wrestling 6
Gymnastics 2
Shooting 2
Boxing 1
Canoeing 1
Judo 1
Modern Pentathlon 1
Rowing 1
Swimming 1
Total 182

Here, athletics (track & field) accounts for 56.6% of the positive tests, while athletics and weightlifting together comprise 84.1% of all the positive tests. It should be noted that the equestrian positives involve doping of the horses, in most cases with capsaicin, a topical anti-inflammatory medication derived from chili peppers.

As to what the athletes are taking, the trend is the same as back in November 2016 with the three biggest offenders being turinabol (dehydrochloromethyltestosterone), stanozolol (7β-Hydroxy-17α-methyl-5α-androstano[3,2-c]pyrazole), both of which are anabolic steroids, and biological passport offenses. The breakdown by drugs is given in the following table. Note that the total comes to well over 182 (222) because many athletes tested positive for 2 or more drugs.

Drug ###
Turinabol 78
Stanozolol 42
Biologic passport offense 32
Oxandrolone 9
Erythropoietin 7
Capsaicin 6
Furosemide 4
Methylhexanamine 4
Methyltrienolone 4
Testosterone 4
CERA re-test + 3
Clenbuterol 3
Unknown 3
Acetazolamide 2
Drostanolone 2
GHRP-2 & GHRP-2 M2 2
Blast-Off Red 1
Blood doping 1
Felbinac 1
GHRP-2 1
Ipamorelin 1
Marijuana 1
Methandienone 1
Methyltestosterone 1
Nandrolone 1
Other anabolic steroid 1
Propranolol 1
Sample tampering 1
Sibutamine 1
Total 222

Please refer again to our previous blog (http://olympstats.com/2016/11/28/summary-of-the-ioc-re-testing-from-2008-2012-to-date/) in which I gave details of exactly what the above drugs were and what they are purported to do. In addition, the legend to the final table in this blog gives brief information on each drug.

As noted in that previous blog, it is very difficult to give full details about medals lost and medals won by nations. In doping sanctions, the results are changed by the International Federations (IFs), while the medals are removed and re-allocated by the IOC. Thus we can provide good information about medals lost, but re-allocation of medals can be a slow process because of appeals to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) and further legal appeals. Because of the legal risks involved, the IOC moves slowly in re-allocation of medals.

As I noted in some recent tweets, however, re-allocation of Olympic medals is not a given. The classic case in 2008-12 has occurred in the 2012 men’s 94 kg weightlifting event, in which 6 of the top 8 finishers, including the top 4 finishers, all tested positive. Theoretically, the 9th place finisher, Tomasz Zielinski of Poland, could move up to a bronze medal. However, as of 1 April, the IOC has re-allocated the gold and silver medals (to Saeid Mohammadpourkarkaragh of Iran and Kim Min-Jae of Korea, respectively), but has not re-allocated the bronze medal, likely because Zielinski had a doping positive in Rio for spironolactone.

However, as of 1 April 2017, 74 medals have been lost for doping positives in 2008-12, with 18 gold medals removed. The breakdown is as follows, with the detailed breakdown first, followed by tables listing medals lost by sports and nations:

NOC Sport Year G S B TM
Armenia Weightlifting 2008 0 0 1 1
Azerbaijan Wrestling 2008 0 1 0 1
Belarus Athletics 2008 1 2 3 6
Belarus Weightlifting 2008 0 1 1 2
Brazil Equestrian Events 2008 0 0 1 1
Bahrain Athletics 2008 1 0 0 1
China Weightlifting 2008 3 0 0 3
Cuba Athletics 2008 0 1 0 1
Greece Athletics 2008 0 0 1 1
Italy Cycling 2008 0 1 0 1
Jamaica Athletics 2008 1 0 0 1
Kazakhstan Weightlifting 2008 1 1 1 3
Kazakhstan Wrestling 2008 0 0 1 1
Norway Equestrian Events 2008 0 0 1 1
DPR Korea (North) Shooting 2008 0 1 1 2
Russia Athletics 2008 0 4 2 6
Russia Weightlifting 2008 0 1 3 4
Russia Wrestling 2008 0 1 0 1
Turkey Athletics 2008 0 1 0 1
Turkey Weightlifting 2008 0 1 0 1
Ukraine Athletics 2008 0 1 1 2
Ukraine Modern Pentathlon 2008 0 0 1 1
Ukraine Weightlifting 2008 0 1 1 2
Totals 2008 7 18 19 44
Armenia Weightlifting 2012 0 0 1 1
Belarus Athletics 2012 1 0 0 1
Belarus Weightlifting 2012 0 0 2 2
Kazakhstan Weightlifting 2012 4 0 0 4
Moldova Weightlifting 2012 0 0 2 2
Russia Athletics 2012 4 4 1 9
Russia Weightlifting 2012 0 4 0 4
Russia Wrestling 2012 0 1 0 1
Turkey Athletics 2012 2 0 0 2
Ukraine Athletics 2012 0 1 0 1
Ukraine Weightlifting 2012 0 0 1 1
United States Athletics 2012 0 1 0 1
Uzbekistan Wrestling 2012 0 0 1 1
Totals 2012 11 11 8 30
Overal Totals 18 29 27 74
Sport G S B TM
Athletics 10 15 8 33
Weightlifting 8 9 13 30
Wrestling 0 3 2 5
Shooting 0 1 1 2
Equestrian Events 0 0 2 2
Cycling 0 1 0 1
Modern Pentathlon 0 0 1 1
Totals 18 29 27 74
Russia 4 15 6 25
Belarus 2 3 6 11
Kazakhstan 5 1 2 8
Ukraine 0 3 4 7
Turkey 2 2 0 4
China 3 0 0 3
DPR Korea (North) 0 1 1 2
Armenia 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Bahrain 1 0 0 1
Jamaica 1 0 0 1
Azerbaijan 0 1 0 1
Cuba 0 1 0 1
Italy 0 1 0 1
United States 0 1 0 1
Brazil 0 0 1 1
Greece 0 0 1 1
Norway 0 0 1 1
Uzbekistan 0 0 1 1
Total 18 29 27 74

For completeness, at the end of this blog, we will list all 182 positive tests to date, which also details medals removed, sorted, in order, by year, nation, sport, and gender.

I will also repeat a paragraph from the November 2016: “These athletes did break the rules and this certainly looks terrible, but it’s important to remember one thing about this. The IOC tries to catch the drug cheats, more so than in most professional sports, notably in the four major pro sports in the United States (although baseball has gotten much better in recent years). Further, the WADA penalties are far more punitive than those in US professional sports, especially the NFL where a positive drug test costs you 4 games, or ¼th of a season, versus 2 calendar years or more in Olympic sports. It is easy to criticize the IOC for this plethora of positive tests, but one should also note that they took the trouble to do the re-testing, something we will almost never see from the NFL or other professional sports.”

So, in summary, the numbers have significantly increased since our last report on this in November 2016, however, the trends are similar. The most affected sports have been athletics and weightlifting, by far, and the nations involved have tended to be former Soviet nations, led by Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. The testing is ongoing, so watch this space.

Name Gdr NOC Sport Year Events Places Medal Violations
Hripsime Khurshudyan F ARM WLT 2008 75kg 11 Stan
Tigran G. Martirosyan M ARM WLT 2008 69kg 3 B Turin; Stan
Sərdar Həsənov M AZE WLT 2008 62kg DNF Turin
Nizami Paşayev M AZE WLT 2008 94kg 5 Turin; Oxan; Stan
İntiqam Zairov M AZE WLT 2008 85kg 9 Turin
Vitaliy Rəhimov M AZE WRE 2008 60kgGR 2 S Turin
Nataliya Kh'enko-Mi'vich F BLR ATH 2008 SP 2 S Meth; Stan
Oksana Menkova F BLR ATH 2008 HT 1 G Turin; Oxan
Nadezhda Ostapchuk F BLR ATH 2008 SP 3 B Turin; Stan
Darya Pchelnik F BLR ATH 2008 HT 4 Turin
Svetlana Usovich F BLR ATH 2008 800m/4×400 r2 / 4 Turin
Irina Kulesha F BLR WLT 2008 75kg 4 Turin
Anastasiya Novikova F BLR WLT 2008 53kg 3 B Turin; Stan
Vadim Devyatovsky M BLR ATH 2008 HT 2 S Testo
Pavel Lyzhin M BLR ATH 2008 SP 4 Turin
Andrey Mikhnevich M BLR ATH 2008 SP 3 B Clen; Meth; Oxan
Ivan Tikhon M BLR ATH 2008 HT 3 B Testo
Andrey Rybakov M BLR WLT 2008 83kg 2 S Turin; Stan
Rodrigo Pessoa M BRA EQU 2008 Jump/Team =27 / 10 Capsaicin
Bernardo Resende M BRA EQU 2008 Jump/Team =3 / 10 B Capsaicin
Rashid Ramzi M BRN ATH 2008 1500m 1 G CERA re-test +
Tezdzhan Naimova F BUL ATH 2008 100m Heats Sample tampering
Cao Lei F CHN WLT 2008 75kg 1 G GHRP-2 + M2
Chen Xiexia F CHN WLT 2008 48kg 1 G GHRP-2 + M2
Liu Chunhong F CHN WLT 2008 69kg 1 G Sibut; GHRP-2
Vanja Perišić F CRO ATH 2008 800m r1 CERA re-test +
Yarelis Barrios F CUB ATH 2008 DT 2 S Acetazolamide.
Wilfredo Martínez M CUB ATH 2008 LJ 5 Acetazolamide.
Alissa Kallinikou F CYP ATH 2008 400m 5 h7 r1/3 Testo
Josephine Onyia F ESP ATH 2008 100HH r2/3 MHX
Maribel Moreno F ESP CYC 2008 Non-competitor DNS EPO
Stefan Schumacher M GER CYC 2008 ITT/Road race 13 / DNF CERA
Christian Ahlmann M GER EQU 2008 Jump/Team =28 / 8 Capsaicin
Marco Kutscher M GER EQU 2008 Jump/Team 38 /8 Capsaicin
Pigi Devetzi F GRE ATH 2008 LJ/TJ 14 / 3 B Stan
Fani Khalkia F GRE ATH 2008 Non-competitor DNS MTri
Athanasia Tsoumeleka F GRE ATH 2008 20K wk 9 CERA re-test +
Tasos Gousis M GRE ATH 2008 Non-competitor DNS MTri
Denis Lynch M IRL EQU 2008 Jumping =8 Capsaicin
Davide Rebellin M ITA CYC 2008 Road race 2 S CERA
Nesta Carter M JAM ATH 2008 4×100 1 G MHX
Mariya Grabovetskaya F KAZ WLT 2008 +75kg 3 B Turin; Oxan; Stan
Maiya Maneza F KAZ WLT 2008 63kg DNS Stan
Irina Nekrasova F KAZ WLT 2008 63kg 2 S Stan
Ilya Ilyin M KAZ WLT 2008 94 kg 1 G Stan
Vladimir Sedov M KAZ WLT 2008 85kg 4 Stan
Aset Mambetov M KAZ WRE 2008 96kgGR 3 B Stan
Alexandru Dudoglo M MDA WLT 2008 69kg 9 Stan
Tony André Hansen M NOR EQU 2008 Jump/Team 1QR / 3 B Capsaicin
Adam Seroczyński M POL CAN 2008 K2-1000 4 Clen
Kim Jong-Su M PRK SHO 2008 AP/FP 3 / 2 B/S Propran
Samuel Francis M QAT ATH 2008 100m r3 Stan
Mariya Abakumova F RUS ATH 2008 JT 2 S Turin
Inga Abitova F RUS ATH 2008 10K 6 Turin
Yuliya Chermo’skaya F RUS ATH 2008 200m/4×100 r3 / 1 Turin; Stan
Anna Chicherova F RUS ATH 2008 HJ 3 B Turin
Tatyana Firova F RUS ATH 2008 400m/4×400 6 / 2 S Turin; other AS
Anast. Kapa’skaya F RUS ATH 2008 400m/4×400 5 / 2 S Turin; Stan
Tatyana Lebedeva F RUS ATH 2008 LJ/TJ 2 / 2 S Turin
Yelena Slesarenko F RUS ATH 2008 HJ 4 Turin
Yekaterina Volkova F RUS ATH 2008 Steeple 3 B Turin
Marina Shainova F RUS WLT 2008 58kg 2 S Turin; Stan
Nadezhda Yevstyukhina F RUS WLT 2008 75kg 3 B Turin; EPO
Denis Alekseyev M RUS ATH 2008 400m/4×400 r1 / 3 Turin
Aleksandr Pogorelov M RUS ATH 2008 Decathlon 4 Turin
Ivan Yushkov M RUS ATH 2008 SP 10 Turin; Oxan; Stan
Khadzhimurat Akkayev M RUS WLT 2008 94kg 3 B Turin
Dmitry Lapikov M RUS WLT 2008 105kg 3 B Turin
Khasan Baroyev M RUS WRE 2008 120kgGR 2 S Turin
Elvan Abeylegesse F TUR ATH 2008 5K 2 S Stan
Sibel Özkan F TUR WLT 2008 48kg 2 S Stan
Nurcan Taylan F TUR WLT 2008 48kg DNF Stan
Liudmyla Blonska F UKR ATH 2008 LJ/Hept 3QR / 2 S MTS
Vita Palamar F UKR ATH 2008 HJ 5 Turin
Viktoriya Tereshchuk F UKR MOP 2008 Individual 3 B Turin
Nataliya Davydova F UKR WLT 2008 69kg 3 B Turin
Olha Korobka F UKR WLT 2008 +75kg 2 S Turin
Denys Yurchenko M UKR ATH 2008 PV 3 B Turin
Ihor Razoronov M UKR WLT 2008 105 kg 6 Nandro
Courtney King-Dye F USA EQU 2008 Dress/Team 13 / 4 Felbinac
Thị Ngân Thương Đỗ F VIE GYM 2008 All-Around +4Apps 59 Lasix
Hysen Pulaku M ALB WLT 2012 77 kg. DNS Stan
Hripsime Khurshudyan F ARM WLT 2012 +75kg 3 B Turin; Stan
Norayr Vardanyan M ARM WLT 2012 94kg 11 Turin
Boyanka Kostova F AZE WLT 2012 58kg 5 Turin; Stan
İntiqam Zairov M AZE WLT 2012 94kg 6 Turin
Anastasiya Ivanova-Shvedova F BLR ATH 2012 PV 17 Turin
Nataliya Koreyvo F BLR ATH 2012 1500m 7 BPO
Oksana Menkova F BLR ATH 2012 HT 7 Turin; Stan
Nadezhda Ostapchuk F BLR ATH 2012 SP 1 G Methen
Irina Kulesha F BLR WLT 2012 75kg 3 B Turin
Dina Sazanovets F BLR WLT 2012 69kg 4 Drost; Stan
Marina Shkermankova F BLR WLT 2012 69kg 3 B Turin; Stan
Pavel Kryvitsky M BLR ATH 2012 HT 28 Turin; Stan
Andrey Mikhnevich M BLR ATH 2012 SP 17QR Clen; Meth; Oxan
Ivan Tikhon M BLR ATH 2012 Pre-games test DNS Meth
Yevgeny Zhernosek M BLR WLT 2012 +105kg 9 Turin; Oxan; Stan
Kissya Costa F BRA ROW 2012 Single sculls 18 EPO
Wang Jianan F CHN ATH 2012 Marathon 58 BPO
Yolanda Caballero F COL ATH 2012 Marathon DNF BPO
Diego Palomegue M COL ATH 2012 Pre-games testing DNS Stan
Marta Domínguez F ESP ATH 2012 Steeple 12 BPO
Hassan Hirt M FRA ATH 2012 5K 11h1 r1/2 EPO
Raul Tsirek'idze M GEO WLT 2012 85kg 9 Turin; Stan
Alex Schwazer M ITA ATH 2012 Pre-games test DNS EPO
Zulfiya Chinshanlo F KAZ WLT 2012 53kg 1 G Oxan; Stan
Maiya Maneza F KAZ WLT 2012 63kg 1 G Stan
Svetlana Podobedova F KAZ WLT 2012 75kg 1 G Stan
Ilya Ilyin M KAZ WLT 2012 94kg 1 G Turin; Stan
Almas Uteshov M KAZ WLT 2012 94kg 7 Turin; Stan
Taymuraz Tigiyev M KAZ WRE 2012 94kgFS =14 Turin
Hussain Al-Hamdah M KSA ATH 2012 5K 19r1/2 BPO
Mohammed Shaween M KSA ATH 2012 1500m Semis BPO
Amine Laâlou F MAR ATH 2012 Pre-games test DNS Lasix
Abderrahhime Bouramdane M MAR ATH 2012 Marathon DNF BPO
Zalina Marghiev F MDA ATH 2012 Hammer 8 Turin; Stan
Marina Marghiyev F MDA ATH 2012 Pre-games test DNS Lasix
Cristina Iovu F MDA WLT 2012 53kg 3 B Turin
Anatolii Cîrîcu M MDA WLT 2012 94kg 3 B Turin
Hamza Driouch M QAT ATH 2012 1500m 10r2 BPO
Yelena Arzhakova F RUS ATH 2012 800m 6 BPO
Mariya Bespalova F RUS ATH 2012 HT 8 Unknown
Tatyana Chernova F RUS ATH 2012 Heptathlon 3 B Turin
Vera Ganeyeva F RUS ATH 2012 DT 23 QR Turin
Yelizaveta Grechishnikova F RUS ATH 2012 10K 19r1 BPO
Olga Kaniskina F RUS ATH 2012 20K wk 2 S BPO
Gulfiya Khanafeyeva F RUS ATH 2012 HT 13 Turin
Yevgeniya Kolodko F RUS ATH 2012 SP 2 S Turin; Ipamo
Yekaterina Kostetskaya F RUS ATH 2012 1500m 9 BPO
Antonina Krivoshapka F RUS ATH 2012 400m/4×400 6 / 2 S Turin
Tatyana Lysenko F RUS ATH 2012 HT 1 G Unknown
Yekaterina Martynova F RUS ATH 2012 1500m r1/3 BPO
Darya Pishchalnikova F RUS ATH 2012 DT 2 S Oxan
Mariya Savinova F RUS ATH 2012 800m 1 G BPO
Viktoriya Valyukovich F RUS ATH 2012 TJ 8 Turin
Yuliya Zaripova F RUS ATH 2012 Steeple 1 G Turin
Viktoriya Baranova F RUS CYC 2012 Pre-games testing DNS Testo
Yekaterina Gnidenko F RUS CYC 2012 Kieren/Sprint 8 / 18 Turin
Svetlana Tsarukayeva F RUS WLT 2012 63kg 2 S Turin
Nataliya Zabolotnaya F RUS WLT 2012 75kg 2 S Turin
Sergey Bakulin M RUS ATH 2012 50K wk 5 BPO
Valeriy Borchin M RUS ATH 2012 20K wk DNF BPO
Kirill Ikonnikov M RUS ATH 2012 HT 5 Turin
Vladimir Kanaykin M RUS ATH 2012 20K wk DNF BPO
Sergey Kirdyapkin M RUS ATH 2012 50K wk 1 G BPO
Dmitry Starodubtsev M RUS ATH 2012 PV 4 Turin
Igor Yerokhin M RUS ATH 2012 50K wk 5 BPO
Apti Aukhadov M RUS WLT 2012 85kg 2 S Turin; Drost
Andrey Demanov M RUS WLT 2012 94kg 4 Turin
Aleksandr Ivanov M RUS WLT 2012 94kg 2 S Turin; Stan
Besik Kudukhov M RUS WRE 2012 60kgFS 2 S Turin
Tameka Williams F SKN ATH 2012 100m/200m DNS Blast-Off Red
Blaža Klemenčič F SLO CYC 2012 MTB 23 EPO
Ghfran Mouhamad F SYR ATH 2012 400IH 8 h2 r1/3 MHX
Semoy Hackett F TTO ATH 2012 100m/200m/4×100 Hts / 8 / Final MHX
Aslı Çakır F TUR ATH 2012 1500m 1 G BPO
Gamze Bulut F TUR ATH 2012 1500m 2 G BPO
Bahar Doğan F TUR ATH 2012 Marathon 62 BPO
Ümmü Kiraz F TUR ATH 2012 Marathon 88 BPO
Semiha Mutlu F TUR ATH 2012 20K wk 47 BPO
Meliz Redif F TUR ATH 2012 4×400 r1 BPO
Pınar Saka F TUR ATH 2012 400m/4×400 4r1/3 / 8r1/2 BPO
Binnaz Uslu F TUR ATH 2012 Steeple 15r1 BPO
Nevin Yanıt F TUR ATH 2012 100HH 5 Blood doping
Sibel Şimşek F TUR WLT 2012 63kg 4 Turin; Stan
Adem Kılıççı M TUR BOX 2012 75 kg. =5 Turin
Tetiana Hamera-Shmyrko F UKR ATH 2012 Marathon 5 BPO
Liudmyla Iosypenko F UKR ATH 2012 Heptathlon 4 BPO
Hanna Mishchenko F UKR ATH 2012 1500m r1 BPO
Anzhelika Shevchenko F UKR ATH 2012 1500m 13r1/3 BPO
Svitlana Shmidt F UKR ATH 2012 Steeple 12h3r1/2 BPO
Marharyta Tverdokhlib F UKR ATH 2012 LJ 25 Turin; Stan
Olha Beresneva F UKR SWI 2012 10k OW 7 EPO
Yuliya Kalina F UKR WLT 2012 58kg 3 B Turin
Oleksandr Dryhol M UKR ATH 2012 HT 34 Turin
Maksym Mazuryk M UKR ATH 2012 PV 18 Turin
Oleksandr P'iatnytsia M UKR ATH 2012 JT 2 S Turin
Tyson Gay M USA ATH 2012 100m/4×100 4 / 2 S Unknown
Nick Delpopolo M USA JUD 2012 Lightweight =7 Marijuana
Luiza Galiulina F UZB GYM 2012 All-Around DNS Lasix
Soslan Tigiyev M UZB WRE 2012 74kgFS 3 B Turin

Table Legend for Violations: BPO = Biological passport offense; CERA = continuous erythropoietin receptor activator (increases red blood cell counts); Clen = Clenbuterol (sympathomimetic anabolic agent); Drost = Drostolone (anabolic steroid); EPO = Erythropoietin (increases red blood cell counts); GHRP-2 = growth hormone releasing peptide (pralmorelin) (increases growth hormone levels); Ipamo = Ipamorelin (GHRP analogue; increases growth hormone levels); Lasix = Furosemide (diuretic); Meth = Methandienone (anabolic steroid); Methen = Methenolone (anabolic steroid); MHX = Methylhexanamine (sympathomimetic amine = stimulant); MTri = Methyltrienolone (anabolic steroid); MTS = Methyltestosterone (anabolic steroid); Nandro = Nandrolone (anabolic steroid); Other AS (anabolic steroid) = 3a-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one (anabolic steroid); Oxan = Oxandrolone (anabolic steroid); Propran = Propranolol (ß-blocker, slows heart rate, may increase cardiac output); Sibut = Sibutramine (oral anorexic; helps lose weight); Stan = Stanozolol (anabolic steroid); Testo = Testosterone (anabolic steroid); Turin = Turinabol (anabolic steroid).

Olympic Basketball Multi-Gold Medalists

Bill Hougland died yesterday. Even to die-hard Olympic fans that is not a well-known name, but Hougland played basketball at the University of Kansas and won gold medals in basketball at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. An AP story and obituary called him the first Olympian to win 2 gold medals in basketball but that was wrong. The first was Bob Kurland, who won gold medals for the US in 1948 and 1952.

Prior to NBA players being allowed to play in the Olympics, only 3 US Olympians won 2 gold medals in basketball – Kurland, Hougland, and Burdie Halldorson, who played in 1956 and 1960.

Of the multiple Olympic hoops gold medalists, there are 8 Soviet women from 1976-80, but all the others are American, as would be expected, given the US dominance in the sport. Here are the lists of Olympic basketball players to win multiple gold medals – first the men and then the women:

Name Gdr NOC Sport Golds Years
Carmelo Anthony M USA BAS 3 2008/2012/2016
Bob Kurland M USA BAS 2 1948/1952
Bill Hougland M USA BAS 2 1952/1956
Burdie Haldorson M USA BAS 2 1956/1960
Patrick Ewing M USA BAS 2 1984/1992
Michael Jordan M USA BAS 2 1984/1992
Chris Mullin M USA BAS 2 1984/1992
David Robinson M USA BAS 2 1992/1996
Charles Barkley M USA BAS 2 1992/1996
Karl Malone M USA BAS 2 1992/1996
Scottie Pippen M USA BAS 2 1992/1996
John Stockton M USA BAS 2 1992/1996
Gary Payton M USA BAS 2 1996/2000
Jason Kidd M USA BAS 2 2000/2008
LeBron James M USA BAS 2 2008/2012
Kobe Bryant M USA BAS 2 2008/2012
Chris Paul M USA BAS 2 2008/2012
Deron Williams M USA BAS 2 2008/2012
Name Gdr NOC Sport Golds Years
Teresa Edwards F USA BAS 4 1984/1988/1996/2000
Lisa Leslie F USA BAS 4 1996/2000/2004/2008
Sue Bird F USA BAS 4 2004/2008/2012/2016
Tamika Catchings F USA BAS 4 2004/2008/2012/2016
Diana Taurasi F USA BAS 4 2004/2008/2012/2016
Dawn Staley F USA BAS 3 1996/2000/2004
Sheryl Swoopes F USA BAS 3 1996/2000/2004
Katie Smith F USA BAS 3 2000/2004/2008
Seimone Augustus F USA BAS 3 2008/2012/2016
Olga Barysheva-Korostelyova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Nelli Feryabnikova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Tatyana Ovechkina F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Angelė Rupšienė F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Uļjana Semjonova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Nadezhda Shuvayeva-Olkhova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Olga Sukharnova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Tetiana Zakharova-Nadyrova F URS BAS 2 1976/1980
Anne Donovan F USA BAS 2 1984/1988
Katrina McClain F USA BAS 2 1988/1996
Ruthie Bolton-Holifield F USA BAS 2 1996/2000
Nikki McCray F USA BAS 2 1996/2000
Yolanda Griffith F USA BAS 2 2000/2004
DeLisha Milton-Jones F USA BAS 2 2000/2008
Tina Thompson F USA BAS 2 2004/2008
Swin Cash F USA BAS 2 2004/2012
Sylvia Fowles F USA BAS 2 2008/2012
Candace Parker F USA BAS 2 2008/2012

Olympic Bid Cities

Budapest has withdrawn as a potential host city for the 2024 Olympic Games, leaving only 2 remaining bid cities – Los Angeles and Paris. There were originally 5 bid cities presented to the IOC for 2024, but Roma, Italy and Hamburg, Germany also withdrew earlier, with Hamburg doing so after poor results in a referendum, and Roma’s mayor pulling the plug on the bid.

This follows on the heels of the bidding for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, which finally were awarded to Beijing. There were originally 6 bid cities for those Winter Olympics, but for various reasons, Oslo, Stockholm, Kraków, and Lviv also all withdrew.

This certainly does not look good for the IOC and the anti-Olympic Movement is chortling today, claiming that they have won again and that no cities want the Olympic Games, mainly because of excessive costs. Certainly it is concerning that so many cities are withdrawing as potential hosts but, as always, let’s look at this in some context.
Below are the lists of the number of bids that have been submitted to host the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games since 1960.

We chose 1960 for a reason – that is the year that US television starting televising the Games. For many years, US television funded the Olympic Movement, and it still contributes a large portion of IOC funds. So in 1960 the whole financial picture changed and 1960 is thus a good place to start this analysis.

Year Submitted Went To Vote
1960 7 7
1964 4 4
1968 4 4
1972 4 4
1976 3 3
1980 2 2
1984 1 0
1988 2 2
1992 6 6
1996 6 6
2000 5 5
2004 10 5
2008 10 5
2012 9 5
2016 7 4
2020 6 3
2024 6 2

Year Submitted Went To Vote
1960 4 4
1964 3 3
1968 6 6
1972 4 4
1976 7 4
1980 1 0
1984 3 3
1988 3 3
1992 7 7
1994 4 4
1998 5 5
2002 9 4
2006 9 2
2010 8 3
2014 7 3
2018 3 3
2022 6 2



Looking at the Summer Bids, two trends are obvious. One is that there have never been more cities submitting bids than have done so in the 2004-2024 era. The other is that there are two distinct downward trends for number of cities finally going to the vote – first in 1976-84, and now in 2016-24, although it is not as bad now as it was then.

More cities bid now because in the 1980-90s, thanks to the magic of Peter Ueberroth and the astounding financial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, it appeared that cities could make a profit on the Olympics. Actually, they can, if run correctly, and depending on accounting, of course. Dick Pound and Juan Antonio Samaranch realized that Ueberroth’s methods to control costs and bring in revenues would work for the IOC as a whole and started the TOP Progamme in the early 1980s, which further guaranteed host cities money up front. Olympic Games looked to be a financial plus for cities.

Unfortunately, as Tom Wolfe said in “The Right Stuff,” a few cities then “screwed the pooch” for the others. Athens could not control costs and did not have the financial wherewithal of a Los Angeles or even an Atlanta or Sydney. Beijing cared little about how much money it spent – my favorite financial figure from Beijing is $350 million (US) – that’s how much the Opening Ceremony supposedly cost. And finally, Rio de Janeiro was a financial disaster, though not fully their fault, as when the bid was awarded in 2009, Brazil was a boom country, part of the BRIC economies, but that economy soon cratered.

So why did cities stop bidding in 1976-84 as they are doing now? Cost overruns also hurt, as Montréal went deeply into debt for the 1976 Olympics, and scared off bidders. The 1972 München Massacre and terrorism fears did not help, nor did the boycotts of 1976, 1980, and 1984.

However, in general, there’s not a big difference now in the number of bids that went to vote than there have been since 1960. There are simply less than there were in the boom period of 1992-2012. And remember, there were so many bids in that era, that the IOC established an Evaluation Commission that eliminated bids prior to the final vote. It may look like, above, that many cities dropped out in that era, but they did not – they were dropped by the IOC. The IOC Evaluation Commission eliminated the following number of cities from 2004-16: 2004 – 5; 2008 – 5; 2012 – 4; and 2016 – 3.

What about bidding for the Winter Games? From the charts and graph above, it’s harder to tell for the Winter Olympics as the chart bounces all over the place. But in general, the average number of final bids since 1960 has usually been between 3 to 5, with blips only in 1968 and 1992. Again, although there were more bids between 2002-14, many of these were eliminated by the IOC Evaluation Commission. The Evaluation Commission eliminated bids as follows in those years: 2002 – 5; 2006 – 7; 2010 – 5; and 2014 – 4.

So yes, this does not look good with bid cities dropping out. But it has happened before to the Olympic Movement and they responded and actually turned it around. Can they do it again? Are Peter Ueberroth and Dick Pound still available?

Olympian Immigrants

Immigrants are in the news these days, due to some political rulings by new US President Donald Trump. These rules have recently been rescinded by the US judicial system, but for a time they appeared they would have some effect on international sports, both with foreign athletes coming to the United States, but also USA athletes traveling to foreign countries, notably to Iran last week for a wrestling World Cup event.

Further, within the last year, a refugee storm has flooded Europe from the Middle East, especially Syria, because of civil strife in that country and attacks by ISIS. Many countries have expressed concern about how they would handle this refugee crisis and provide for the many immigrants crossing their borders.

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, sensitive to the problems of immigrants and refugees, Thomas Bach made the bold proposal to include a team of refugee athletes who had been displaced from their homelands and had no NOC for which to compete. There were 10 refugee athletes competing in Rio, with 6 men and 4 women, and although they won no medals, they competed proudly, represented themselves well, and sent a message to the world. The only negative for the team was the 3-letter abbreviation chosen for them, ROT (Refugee Olympic Team), which has a rather negative connotation in English.

So this put us to wondering, how often have immigrants competed at the Olympics for countries other than their native one? Over the last 20 years or so, with what I have termed the Olympic diaspora, this has become much more common, or so it seems. Many African distance runners, superb athletes but unable to make their national teams, have elected to compete for other countries, often Gulf State countries such as Bahrain and Qatar.

And in further news about this development, the IAAF has recently ruled that they are studying this question, which they believe to be a problem, and such national transfers are on hold until a working committee finishes their study of this situation. FIFA also basically bans this practice as you elect one nation at the beginning of your senior international career, and you cannot change it after that.

So how often do immigrants compete at the Olympics for a nation other than their native land? This is not easy to answer. Our database includes all Olympic competitors, and it also has a field for ethnic nation, but we don’t include ethnicity for all athletes in all cases. There are a number of caveats in how we have to look at this and, as a result, some limitations on the data we are about to present. In academic papers, which I deal with daily as a medical editor, limitations to a study are usually given at the end, but we’ll present them here at the outset.

Since we can’t always tell ethnicity of every athlete in every case, the surrogate data field we chose to use is nation of birth, comparing that to nation they competed for at the Olympics. We have place of birth for over 80% of Olympic athletes, and at recent Olympics, it approaches 95% of Olympians, so we have sufficient data to use this as the surrogate.

However, that is not perfect, the best example probably being Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, who was born in München, Germany, where he won his 1972 Olympic gold medal, but was definitely an American national, his father having been in the military in Germany when he was born. Another similar non-Olympian was John McEnroe, also born in Germany, but of American military parents. A few of these will creep in but we don’t think it will affect the numbers much, as our datasets are large, and by the large of law numbers, this should have little effect.

Next, from our database we develop two fields “nation of birth” and “nation of competition” and pull “immigrant athletes” out whenever these two fields do not match. But a problem here arises with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991-92 into its constituent republics; Germany splitting into West and East Germany (FRG/GDR) in 1945 and then re-combining in 1990; and similar merging and splitting with Yugoslavia, Czechoslavia, Vietnam, and Yemen. So we then eliminated all of these possibilities. If the merged field was FRG-GDR, we deleted that record as not an immigrant athlete. Similarly for RUS-URS, YUG-SRB, etc. But you’ll see that this does not totally solve the problem. This still leaves athletes such as URS-KAZ, which are similar, but there’s a limit to what we can delete ad hoc.

When you’re dealing with over 200 nations there are always going to be anomalies. Israel is dealt with elsewhere in this article but there are others. Ireland’s proportion of 21 % of Olympians born outside its borders is also misleading as the vast majority were in fact born on the island of Ireland albeit in the British-governed north. Under a provision of the Irish constitution they had, until recently, an automatic right to Irish citizenship.

Great Britain could in fact choose any subject of the British Empire to compete at the Olympic Games until 1952 while US citizens can represent any one of its dependent territories (e.g., Guam, American Samoa) unless the NOC involved has further residency or ancestry rules.

Liechtenstein’s tally has a more practical reason. Half of all new mothers from the principality decide to travel abroad to give birth, mainly to border towns in neighboring Switzerland and Austria.

And Indonesia, formerly the Dutch East Indies, and the Netherlands are another combination that probably should be considered not to constitute an immigrant situation.

Finally, our database lists placenames as they exist today. Thus we list Moskva (Moscow) as Moskva, Russia, not Moskva, Soviet Union, even if the athlete was born in Moskva when it was part of the Soviet Union. By the previous paragraph note, this will get thrown out, but it may make some minor differences in the data.

Given all that, our numbers are pretty large. There are almost 135,000 Olympians, and we thus have places of birth for about 109,000 athletes.

The questions we want to look at are: 1) how often do immigrant athletes compete at the Olympics?; 2) which nations have had the largest number of immigrant Olympians competing for them, and which nations have sent the most immigrant Olympians to other nations?; 3) which sports have the highest percentage of immigrant Olympians; 4) is this increasing in frequency or are they any trends over time?; 5) is there any difference between Summer and Winter Olympians?; and 6) is there any difference between male and female Olympians?.

In all below IA = immigrant athletes, keeping in mind the above caveats that this means athletes born in a country other than the one they competed for; and OPB = Olympians for whom place of birth is known. Further we have absolute numbers for all the data, but the more important data are the percentages, since athletics (track & field) has had over 18,000 OPB, while synchro swimming has had only 459 OPB. And because of some small numbers for certain sports and nations, we’ll look mostly at the bigger nations and sports. With smaller numbers, the signal to noise ratio is affected much more strongly.

Here is the overall data – since 1896, there have been approximately 8,100 IA out of 109,000 OPB, or a percentage of 7.4% IA. That means about 1 of 13 Olympians can be considered an Immigrant Athlete.

Which nations have had the largest number of immigrant Olympians competing for them, and which nations have sent the most immigrant Olympians to other nations? Well, the Marshall Islands has had 7 OPB, and none of them were born there, so they have 100% IA, but again the small number of athletes affects that. Among nations with over 95 Olympians the leading nations, by percentage, are as follows:

Qatar 39 96 40.6%
Israel 110 281 39.1%
Ireland 138 634 21.8%
Liechtenstein 23 110 20.9%
Azerbaijan 25 126 19.8%
Canada 637 3978 16.0%
Cyprus 14 96 14.6%
Greece 213 1467 14.5%
New Zealand 145 1066 13.6%
Hong Kong 35 264 13.3%

But if you look at that, some of those countries have problems with our caveats. Israel gets many Jews from other nations, and Cyprus and Greece likely cross-pollinate, while Azerbaijan is still a former Soviet Republic that makes its numbers suspect, Hong Kong will have cross-over with China, and we mentioned Liechtenstein above. The most impressive country is probably Canada, with 16% of their OPB having been born in other countries, so a lot of Olympians come to Canada either to live there or to compete for them.

Qatar, however, leads, if we limit this to nations with over 95 OPBs, demonstrating how many of their athletes come from other nations, mostly Africa. Bahrain is not on the list because it does not have enough athletes to qualify, but Bahrain has had 76.9% IAs among their Olympians, a huge percentage, reflecting the way they pull athletes to compete for them from elsewhere.

Since small numbers can cause data problems, let’s look at nations with over 1,000 OPBs.

Canada 637 3978 16.0%
Greece 213 1467 14.5%
New Zealand 145 1066 13.6%
Australia 348 3132 11.1%
Austria 166 1878 8.8%
Germany 268 3504 7.6%
United States 570 7918 7.2%
Spain 136 2176 6.3%
Italy 246 4062 6.1%
Great Britain 310 5240 5.9%

Canada is again the most impressive with the most IAs competing for them. The other nations tend to be among the Western European countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, and the USA. Note that Germany is listed, and that is without counting FRG/GER, or GDR/GER doubles, as we noted above.

So which countries have sent the most Olympians to compete for other nations? Again, we’ll look at larger countries for better data.

Georgia 38 112 33.9%
Serbia 40 126 31.7%
Jamaica 78 287 27.2%
Czech Republic (Czechia) 122 518 23.6%
Ethiopia 41 186 22.0%
Côte d’Ivoire 21 102 20.6%
Malaysia 50 246 20.3%
Trinidad & Tobago 23 137 16.8%
Kenya 66 405 16.3%
Morocco 59 379 15.6%

Once again we have the problem with Georgia and the Soviet republics, Serbia and the former Yugoslavia, and Czechia/Czechoslovakia. Note that Jamaica is high on the list, as many of their sprinters go elsewhere to compete, often Canada or the United States, as it’s so difficult to make the Jamaican Olympic sprint team. Ethiopia shows up at 22.0% with many of their distance runners competing elsewhere. Not listed in the 10 nations above, but Kenya shows up at #24 with 16.3% of their native born running for other nations.

If we look at the larger nations only, with more than 1,000 OPBs, here’s what we get:

Germany 425 3504 12.1%
Russia 192 1750 11.0%
Great Britain 527 5240 10.1%
China 197 2108 9.3%
United States 604 7918 7.6%
Canada 300 3978 7.5%
Romania 110 1522 7.2%
Cuba 57 1068 5.3%
Switzerland 126 2372 5.3%
New Zealand 55 1066 5.2%

Russia and Germany again skew the data. Some of the nations are Western European, but also with Canada, USA, and New Zealand. And China, which exports so many table tennis players, also shows up high on this list.

Another other question arises – what are the most common nation combinations? Here are the top 11 of those, if we eliminate the politically connected nations:

Competed For Born In #Combos %Possible
Canada Jamaica 45 57.7%
United States Norway 35 50.0%
Greece Georgia 19 50.0%
United States Japan 14 42.4%
United States Ireland 21 37.5%
United States Mexico 9 33.3%
Turkey Bulgaria 14 28.0%
Germany Kazakhstan 9 27.3%
Bahrain Ethiopia 11 26.8%
Canada Norway 17 24.3%
Bahrain Kenya 16 24.2%

The interesting thing here is that the Canada-Jamaica nexus is the leading combination, but look at the bottom of the list with Bahrain receiving approximately 25% of its Olympians from both Ethiopia and Kenya.

So which sports have the most Immigrant Athletes by percentages? Here is that table for the larger Summer sports, those with more than 500 OPBs:

Sport IA OPBs OPB%
Table Tennis 159 648 24.5%
Tennis 131 1045 12.5%
Baseball 73 616 11.9%
Wrestling 390 4082 9.6%
Equestrian 181 1938 9.3%
Badminton 63 694 9.1%
Fencing 306 3393 9.0%
Modern Pentathlon 58 711 8.2%
Hockey 256 3160 8.1%
Basketball 222 2800 7.9%
Athletics (Track & Field) 1434 18143 7.9%

Not too many surprises here. Table tennis leads because so many Chinese go elsewhere to play internationally because the level of table tennis competition is so high in that country (see our previous post on this – http://olympstats.com/2015/04/25/one-in-every-five-table-tennis-olympians-is-chinese/). Tennis is second, which may surprise. Baseball has had a lot of IAs, and remember that in 2004 Greece, which fielded a team as host country, had to virtually import its entire team from the USA to make up a team, and that has occurred before for other host nations in team sports. Athletics is near the bottom of the list here, of those we chose to list, and is in the middle overall. But look how many athletes in that sport – over 18,000. The sheer size of the sport makes it difficult for the percentages to get that high, despite the Kenyans, Ethiopians, and Jamaicans going all over the globe to compete.

For Winter Sports, you will note that there is not much of a difference between sports:

Sport IA OPBs OPB%
Figure Skating 136 1273 10.7%
Ice Hockey 308 3147 9.8%
Skeleton 11 119 9.2%
Freestyle Skiing 44 508 8.7%
Alpine Skiing 185 2215 8.4%
Biathlon 76 919 8.3%
Bobsledding 108 1372 7.9%
Cross-Country Skiing 135 1946 6.9%
Nordic Combined 30 490 6.1%
Short-Track Speedskating 22 360 6.1%

There’s not really much to differentiate the sports. Russian figure skaters, especially in pairs and ice dance, have gone elsewhere to compete, given the high level in those disciplines in Russia. There are the famous cases of the ice dance couple, the Duchesnays, born in Canada but chose to compete for France; and in 1976 Dianne de Leeuw, a Californian with dual Dutch citizenship, chose to compete for the Netherlands when she was young, not certain if she could make the US team. She won a silver medal at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics for the Netherlands, so those fears were unfounded.

Is any of this changing over time? Here are the numbers for the Summer and Winter Games since World War II:

Summer IA OPBs %OPB
1948 206 3177 6.5%
1952 247 3896 6.3%
1956 202 2675 7.6%
1960 321 4263 7.5%
1964 265 4212 6.3%
1968 348 4613 7.5%
1972 293 5976 4.9%
1976 227 5162 4.4%
1980 96 4523 2.1%
1984 234 5914 4.0%
1988 264 7439 3.5%
1992 411 8354 4.9%
1996 580 9308 6.2%
2000 707 9690 7.3%
2004 880 9715 9.1%
2008 805 10138 7.9%
2012 921 9889 9.3%
2016 967 10632 9.1%
Winter IA OPBs %OPB
1948 34 521 6.5%
1952 30 548 5.5%
1956 34 657 5.2%
1960 41 539 7.6%
1964 46 897 5.1%
1968 54 963 5.6%
1972 30 847 3.5%
1976 36 960 3.8%
1980 36 922 3.9%
1984 48 1108 4.3%
1988 63 1253 5.0%
1992 92 1603 5.7%
1994 134 1564 8.6%
1998 165 1984 8.3%
2002 178 2210 8.1%
2006 169 2319 7.3%
2010 159 2384 6.7%
2014 150 2612 5.7%

If we look at the Winter Games first, there’s not much to offer. There has been some mild fluctuation over time, notably in the 1990s, and that is probably related to the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, but otherwise no real trend.

But if you look at the Summer Games, there is a trend and it is increasing. The 1990s here do not show much of a jump, but look at the 21st century. The percentages have been 9% or more at three Summer Olympics since 2000, and that had not occurred since well before 1948. So this seems to support the athletic diaspora that has started to occur in recent decades, based on African distance runners, Chinese table tennis players, Jamaican sprinters, and others.

How about differences by gender and seasons? Nothing to really speak of, as the numbers, given below, are pretty equal:

Gender Season IA OPBs OPB%
F S 1808 24330 7.4%
M S 5194 69677 7.5%
F W 288 4098 7.0%
M W 911 10967 8.3%

So those are the numbers. Some conclusions can be drawn, despite the difficulty in pulling out the wheat from the chaff in the data. The athletic diaspora at the Summer Games is definitely real and increasing since 2000. Among large nations, more immigrant athletes tend to go to Canada to compete than any other large nation. Among sports, table tennis has the biggest immigrant athlete problems, with Chinese players going all over the place.

Are these problems? Do they need solutions? That can’t be answered directly by the data, although the increased trend of more immigrant athletes in the 21st century does seem concerning. It will be interesting to see what the IAAF does with their study group and if other IFs will follow that lead.

(This post is a combined effort of Bill Mallon and Jeroen Heijmans, with input also from Hilary Evans.)



US Olympic Television Hosts

Mike Tirico has been announced as the primetime host for NBC Television for its telecasts of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang. While perhaps not momentous, in the United States the announcement had some meaning as he will take over from Bob Costas, who has hosted 11 editions of the Olympics and Winter Olympics for NBC.

Mike Tirico

Defining who is the “main host” is difficult, especially in the early years of US televised broadcasts of the Olympics, but following is the list I’ve kept over the years. There are some caveats with these, which I’ll discuss.

Year Season Venue Network Main Host(s)
1960 S Rome CBS Jim McKay
1964 S Tokyo NBC Bud Palmer
1968 S Mexico City ABC Chris Schenkel
1972 S Munich ABC Chris Schenkel / Jim McKay
1976 S Montreal ABC Jim McKay
1980 S Moscow NBC Bryant Gumbel
1984 S Los Angeles ABC Jim McKay
1988 S Seoul NBC Bryant Gumbel
1992 S Barcelona NBC Bob Costas
1996 S Atlanta NBC Bob Costas
2000 S Sydney NBC Bob Costas
2004 S Athens NBC Bob Costas
2008 S Beijing NBC Bob Costas
2012 S London NBC Bob Costas
2016 S Rio de Janeiro NBC Bob Costas
1960 W Squaw Valley CBS Walter Cronkite
1964 W Innsbruck ABC Jim McKay
1968 W Grenoble ABC Chris Schenkel / Jim McKay
1972 W Sapporo NBC Curt Gowdy
1976 W Innsbruck ABC Jim McKay
1980 W Lake Placid ABC Jim McKay
1984 W Sarajevo ABC Jim McKay
1988 W Calgary ABC Jim McKay / Keith Jackson
1992 W Albertville CBS Paula Zahn / Tim McCarver
1994 W Lillehammer CBS Greg Gumbel
1998 W Nagano CBS Jim Nantz
2002 W Salt Lake City NBC Bob Costas
2006 W Torino NBC Bob Costas
2010 W Vancouver NBC Bob Costas
2014 W Sochi NBC B. Costas / M. Lauer / M. Vieira
2018 W PyeongChang NBC Mike Tirico

US telecasts of the Olympics began in February 1960 from Squaw Valley, California, with CBS televising the Games. Few people would remember that the host was Walter Cronkite, far better known for broadcasting news than sports. The 1960 Summer Olympics were in Rome and CBS again televised those Olympics, but this was the era before satellites, so the tapes of the events were flown overnight to New York and Jim McKay hosted the CBS broadcasts from a studio in New York. It was the first hosting duties for McKay, and is not often remembered, because it was for CBS, and he is far better known for his many years with ABC.

In 1964 the main hosting duties for NBC were held by Bud Palmer, a former NBA player and well-known US sportscaster at the time. Bill Henry did some studio work for NBC, but Palmer was definitely the lead host, who covered both track & field and swimming for the network.

In 1972 the main primetime host for ABC at the Munich Olympics was Chris Schenkel, not Jim McKay, as usually thought. However, on the morning of 5 September 1972, when Black September terrorists savagely attacked the Israeli Olympic team, McKay was in the ABC studio and Roone Arledge put him on the air, where he stayed for 16 consecutive hours, narrating the events of the Munich Massacre. It won him honors, plaudits, Emmy Awards, and a personal message from Cronkite, which he always said was one of his most treasured memories.

Jim McKay

In 1980 NBC took over from ABC, which had been the US network most associated with the Olympics throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. The primetime host for NBC in Moscow was expected to be Jim Simpson, a top sportscaster for the network, but in 1979, a small cable sports station started in Bristol, Connecticut, and ESPN hired Simpson to be their most prominent sportscaster. With him not available, NBC turned to Bryant Gumbel, a rising star on their sports broadcasts, but because of the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Gumbel never actually hosted primetime coverage, although he did host a few weekend shows while based in New York.

Gumbel returned in 1988 and did host the NBC broadcasts from Seoul. He was backed up on weekends by Bob Costas, who would become the voice most associated with the Olympics. Costas would go on to be the primetime host of 11 Olympics or Winter Olympics, breaking the record of McKay, who is often said to have hosted 8 Olympics. In actuality, it is 9, including 1960 Rome with CBS, and could be called 10, if you include 1972 Munich with ABC. After Costas and McKay, the most frequent host was Chris Schenkel who hosted 3 Olympics for ABC back in 1968-72. When the announcement of Tirico was made today, Costas was gracious in mentioning McKay as his predecessor as the main US Olympic television host.

Bob Costas

As noted above, at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Costas was joined as hosts by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, but this was not planned. Costas developed a severe case of pink-eye during the Sochi Games, and struggled with it for several broadcasts, before NBC mercifully let him rest and brought in Lauer and Vieira as replacements for a few days.

Who knows how many Olympic Games Mike Tirico will host? With NBC guaranteed US television rights through the 2032 Olympics, that could bring him up to 8, still less than Costas and McKay. We shall see.


The 2024 Olympic Bid Cities

The host city for the 2024 Olympic Games will be chosen at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru, on 13 September 2017. The three remaining host cities are Paris, France; Los Angeles, California, USA; and Budapest, Hungary. Previous bids had been received by Hamburg, Germany, and Roma, Italy, but both cities withdrew – Hamburg after a citizen’s referendum, and Roma after new mayor Virginia Raggi refused to support the bid. Boston, Massachusetts was the original US Candidate City but withdrew in July 2015, after a lack of support from the city mayor and significant opposition from a group called NoBostonOlympics.

So we are left with three bidding cities, as pundents ponder proliferating Olympic costs, and wonder if any cities will soon be left to bid for Olympic Games. Of these three cities, all have bid before, multiple times for each in fact, so let’s look at how they have done.

As a quick summary, not one of the remaining cities – Paris, LA, Budapest – has ever won an election to host an Olympics against other cities. That is despite the fact that Paris has hosted the 1900 and 1924 Olympics and Los Angeles has hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

This is the 7th time Paris has bid for the Olympics. In 1900 there were no real elections, as the nascent IOC simply awarded the Games to Paris, shortly after they decided on Athina to host the 1896 Olympics Games, the first of the modern era. In 1924, Paris was again selected as the host city, but this time, it was done by IOC acclamation in deference to Pierre, Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC and modern Olympic Games, who was planning on retiring as IOC President at the end of the 1924 Olympics. As he was a Parisian, the 1924 Olympics were given to Paris in his honor.

There were two other bids in 1924, from Amsterdam and Los Angeles. It has been suggested that one possibility for 2024 is that the IOC might award 2024 to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles, at one sitting (or possibly vice-versa). In 1921, at the IOC Session that selected the 1924 host city, the IOC did just that – awarding 1924 to Paris and 1928 to Amsterdam. Los Angeles was shunted to the side, in effect, but only 2 years later, 1923, well in advance of when host cities were then chosen (about 3 years before the Olympics), Los Angeles was given host city honors for the 1932 Olympics, by acclamation, with no opposition.

Paris bid again for the Olympics in 1956, but it was only for the Equestrian Competitions. The 1956 Olympics were awarded to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, but soon thereafter, Australia notified the IOC that because of national quarantine restrictions, horses would have to be kept in the country for six months before they could compete, which eliminated the possibility of equestrian events being held in Australia. A separate Equestrian Olympics was planned for earlier in the Northern Hemisphere summer, and a bid ensued, with Stockholm, Sweden eventually being chosen, and hosting, the Equestrian Olympics. Paris placed 2nd in the bid election.

Paris then sat out a few Olympics, but it bid again for 1992, for 2008, and 2012, each time being defeated. It came in 2nd in 1992 to Barcelona, Spain; 3rd in 2008 to Beijing, China, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and 2nd in 2012 to London, England.

Thus Paris has bid for Olympic Games 6 previous times, and has twice hosted the Olympics, but has never defeated another city in an election for the honor to host the Olympics.

So how about Los Angeles, which has also hosted the Olympics twice, in 1932 and 1984? As noted above, Los Angeles was given the 1932 hosting rights by acclamation at the 1923 IOC Session. There was no effective election, as there were no opposing cities. It had already lost tentative bids for 1924 and 1928 after those Games were awarded, also by acclamation, to Paris and Amsterdam.

Los Angeles is persistent. It bid again in 1948, 1952, and 1956, and also for the 1956 Equestrian Games. In 1948, London was given the Olympics by a postal vote in 1946, at the end of World War II. In 1952 Los Angeles was eliminated in the final round of voting, losing to Helsinki, although it tied for second with Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, who also bid. In that era, more than one city from a nation could bid, and this happened several times for US cities. In 1956, LA lost out in the penultimate round of voting, with Melbourne then being chosen over Buenos Aires. And for the 1956 Horsey Olympics, LA finished equal last of 5 bid cities, tying with Berlin, as Stockhom won.

Los Angeles did not quit. It bid again for 1976, eliminated in the first round, as Montréal, Québec, Canada was chosen over Moskva, Soviet Union. It bid again for 1980, losing again to Moskva, the only other candidate city. And finally for 1984, it won the right to host the Olympic Games again. But it defeated no other city to do so.

The election for the 1984 Olympics was scheduled for the 1978 IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland. Only one other city made an early bid, that being Teheran, Iran, but it withdrew before the IOC Session. This was at the time of the 1978 Iranian Revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran, and Iran was in no position to host an Olympic Games.

So in 1978, the IOC had no choice but to award the 1984 Olympics to Los Angeles, or so it seemed. At the 1978 IOC Session, the 1984 Olympics were tentatively awarded to Los Angeles, with the restriction that it adhere to the rules of the Olympic Charter. As documented in the biography of then IOC President Lord Killanin, My Olympic Years, Los Angeles had no concern for the Olympic Charter.

Specifically, Los Angeles was not going to sign a contract, as required, that demanded that the host city absorb any losses from the hosting of the Olympics. This was shortly after the debacle of Montréal in 1976, when it went deeply in debt to host the Olympics, and shortly after boycotts of 1972 (threatened) and 1976, and hosting an Olympics was on no cities’ short lists, somewhat similar to 2017.

The IOC had no choice. They had no other candidate city for 1984. The US Olympic Committee stepped up and agreed that they would co-underwrite any possible cost overruns, although where that money would come from is unknown. By a postal vote, with a deadline date of 7 October 1978, Los Angeles was approved as host city for the 1984 Olympics – 75 votes for, 3 against, and 6 abstentions. But again, it did not defeat another city in an election, similar to Paris.

That is 10 previous bids by Los Angeles, and 0 cities defeated in an election to host the Olympic Games.

Finally we come to Budapest. It should be noted that Hungary has probably the deepest Olympic history of any nation that has not hosted an Olympics. It was present at the 1894 Sorbonne Congress that restored the modern Olympic Games. It had one of the original 15 IOC Members in Ferenc Kémeny. And Budapest has bid 4 previous times for the Olympic Games.

Budapest was one of 6 candidate cities in 1916, when Berlin was selected by acclamation for an Olympics that was never held, because of World War I. It bid again in 1919, along with 7 other cities, to host the 1920 Olympics, which were awarded to Anterp, Belgium, only one year before those Olympics. In 1940, it was one of 14 cities (that is not a typo) that bid for the Olympics, but only Tokyo and Helsinki came to a final vote, with Tokyo winning. The Games were again not held, with Tokyo relinquishing its host duties on 16 July 1938, with Helsinki standing in, only to turn down the chance when World War II made it obvious no Olympics would be held.

Budapest did not quit. (One thing that can be said of these 3 cities bidding for 2024 is that they are doggedly persistent.) It bid again for 1960, but was eliminated in the second round, receiving only 1 vote, as Roma was chosen in round three.

And now Budapest bids again for 2024, along with Paris and Los Angeles. Three cities. A total to date of 20 previous Olympic candidatures. A total of 4 Olympics hosted, 2 by Paris and 2 by Los Angeles. A total of 0 elections won, standing against other cities. Interesting choices. Interesting times.


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