All posts by bmallon

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Budapest has withdrawn as a potential host city for the 2024 Olympic Games, leaving only 2 remaining bid cities – Los Angeles and Paris.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 – 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.


Rio Statistical Reflections

So it is now 4 months post-Rio and time perhaps to reflect, as we usually do, in a statistical manner. This is also much later than we / I get this done, but there have been some personal reasons involved in this delay, including moving homes, hurricanes, and surgery.

We now know that there were 11,190 competitors who started officially in Rio. That is up significantly over the last few years, especially given the dictum during Jacque Rogge’s presidency to limit the Olympic Games to 10,000 competitors. Here are the stats since Seoul in 1988:

Year Location Men Women Total
1988 Seoul 6251 2202 8453
1992 Barcelona 6663 2723 9386
1996 Atlanta 6822 3520 10342
2000 Sydney 6579 4069 10648
2004 Athens 6257 4303 10560
2008 Beijing 6290 4611 10901
2012 London 5863 4657 10520
2016 Rio de Janeiro 6151 5039 11190

So depite efforts to fight gigantism at the Olympics, the numbers keep going up, which again increases costs for host cities. The cost of hosting an Olympics has been shown to correlate fairly well with the number of competitors and the number of sports.

But what’s good above is the number of women competing. It was the first Olympics with more than 5,000 women starting, while men first crossed that “barrier” in 1972 at München (actually with over 6,000). Let’s look at how the percentages of women have increased over the years. Again, we’ll start with Seoul, with begins the post-boycott era – there were some form of boycotts at every Olympics from 1972-84 (and a minor one in 1988 with 6 nations not competing, including The Seychelles).

Year Location Men Women
1988 Seoul 74.0% 26.0%
1992 Barcelona 71.0% 29.0%
1996 Atlanta 66.0% 34.0%
2000 Sydney 61.8% 38.2%
2004 Athens 59.3% 40.7%
2008 Beijing 57.7% 42.3%
2012 London 55.7% 44.3%
2016 Rio de Janeiro 55.0% 45.0%

That is at least getting closer to gender equality, especially compared to Seoul, where ¾ of the athletes were men.

In terms of sports and events, this was also the largest Olympics ever. Here are the number of events available for men, women, and mixed events since Seoul:

Year Men Women Mixed Total %Men %Women
1988 151 72 14 237 69.6% 36.3%
1992 159 86 12 257 66.5% 38.1%
1996 163 97 11 271 64.2% 39.9%
2000 168 120 12 300 60.0% 44.0%
2004 166 125 10 301 58.5% 44.9%
2008 165 127 10 302 57.9% 45.4%
2012 162 132 8 302 56.3% 46.4%
2016 161 136 9 306 55.6% 47.4%

The number of events continues to increase although it was supposed to be capped at 280 per the IOC 2000 Commission that made 50 recommendations after the Olympic Bribery Scandal of 1998-99.

You can see that women are getting close to equality in terms of events available to them. (Of note, the percentages come to >100% because both men and women are eligible to compete in mixed events and sports.) The biggest differences lie in shooting (9 events for men to 6 for women), boxing (10 to 3), canoeing (11 to 5), and wrestling (12 to 6).

Shooting has already pledged to equalize the events at the next Olympics with 5 for men, 5 for women, and 5 mixed team events. Wrestling is a major difference because of Greco-Roman events for men only, and there has been some push to eliminate that discipline from the Olympics. Women still have far fewer boxing events, but that may be a positive as it gives them less chance to be inflicted with traumatic brain injuries and is probably better for them. (Disclaimer: my MD bias there)

In terms of sports, here are the numbers by gender since 1988, showing the ratio of men only sports to women only sports in the last column:

Year Men Women Mixed Total Ratio M/W
1988 24 19 3 27 1.26
1992 26 21 3 29 1.24
1996 27 24 3 31 1.13
2000 27 27 3 34 1.00
2004 28 29 3 34 0.97
2008 28 29 3 34 0.97
2012 29 31 3 32 0.94
2016 31 33 4 34 0.94

Women have more sports than men because only they can compete in synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics. The number of sports dropped in 2012 to 32 when baseball and softball went off the program, and rose again to 34 when golf and rugby sevens were added to the program.

For Tokyo in 2020, five “new” sports will be contested, with baseball / softball returning to the program, and karate, surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing being added. So the number of sports and number of events will definitely go up again, as will certainly the number of athletes competing, all of which will lead to increased costs, which is not a good thing.

Please note that our definition of “sports” is slightly different here than the IOC. The IOC recognizes sports and disciplines, a discipline being a sub-section of a sport. Thus it recognizes the sport of aquatics, which has the disciplines of swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming. We term them all sports for the purpose of this calculation. And most of the world considers those four separate sports. This is also true in a few other sports, notably cycling, equestrian, and volleyball.

So how did the medal counts come out? Here there is a disclaimer – I am a Merkan, and am biased. However, no matter how you slice it, the Rio 2016 Olympics were a dominant performance by @TeamUSA.

The USA men won the most gold medals, the most silver medals, the most bronze medals, and thus, the most medals, with 55. The USA women did the same thing, leading in every possible category of medals, with 27 golds and 61 medals. In those 8 categories, the USA was tied only for most men’s gold medals, with both the USA and Great Britain men winning 18 gold medals.

Is that good, you might ask, or is it something that happens often? It’s very rare now, and has not happened in over 50 years. The USA did it four times – in 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1948, while the Soviet Union did it in 1956 and 1960, and that was the last time it occurred. In 1948, the USA also led the mixed medal table in all 4 categories, the only time a nation has led in all 12 possible medal categories. It did not do that in 2016, equaling Germany with 2 silver and 2 bronze medals in mixed events, but trailing France, Germany, and Great Britain, who won 2 gold medals, while the USA had only 1 in mixed events. With far fewer events, the noise to signal ratio in the mixed event stat is much higher.

In the two sports usually considered the premier sports on the program – athletics (track & field) and swimming – the USA was similarly dominant. Again, the USA men and women led in all four medal categories in both sports, with the only tie coming in women’s swimming bronze medals, where both Canada and the USA had 4.

Is that good, you again may ask, or is that common? It’s less than very rare. That has never before been done at the Olympics, since women began to compete in both sports. This also includes the boycotted Olympics of 1980 and 1984, when it did not happen either time by the host nations.

So it was a great Olympics for the USA, but how about other nations? Certainly Great Britain comes quickly to mind, with 27 gold and 67 medals. Here is the final medal table (and here we are not yet re-distributing medals for the 2 known PED DQs [to date], as the IOC has not yet announced that):

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Medals
United States 46 37 38 121
Great Britain 27 23 17 67
China 26 18 26 70
Russia 19 18 19 56
Germany 17 10 15 42
Japan 12 8 21 41
France 10 18 14 42

The above listing is by the international method of listing by gold medals won first, then silver, then bronze. By the North American methods of total medals first, then gold, then silver, China would be 2nd above.

So when was the last time Great Britain was 2nd or higher on the medal list? That would be 1908 – as in 108 years ago, when the Games were also in London. Britain was 3rd in London in 2012 and 4th in Beijing in 2008. Prior to that time, since 1924, Britain had only been in the top 10 nations 4 times.

What about China, which was 3rd on the list above, or 2nd by the North American system? Rio was seen as a down Games for China. A few Olympics back, there were predictions that China would soon surpass the United States at the top of medal standings, and they look poised to do that when they were 1st in international medal standings in 2008, although they were 2nd that year in North American rankings.

However, this neglects the “Host Nation Bounce Effect,” which I discussed in a post on OlympStats shortly after Sochi (see By analyzing all the Games since World War II, the host nation always wins more medals at the Olympics they host, and there is usually a predictable drop-off at the next 2 Olympics, when they fall back to a steady state. At the Summer Olympics after hosting, the previous nation usually wins about 65-75% of medals and gold medals, and at the Games after that, those numbers drop down to about 48-58%. So the Chinese fall off may have been predictable due to the loss of the bounce effect from Beijing 2008, and in fact, they did not see as big a drop-off as do most host nations.

What about Russia, which is usually near the top of the medal standings? Not so close in Rio, although there is a pretty good reason for that. The less said, the better.

So those are the Rio numbers and analysis. More sports, more events, and more competitors, which the IOC has been trying to avoid, and its only going to get worse in Tokyo. There was near gender equality for women in terms of sports, events, and athletes. A dominant performance by @TeamUSA, and Great Britain also performed admirably. The Chinese team’s performance was less than expected, but perhaps should have been predicted on closer analysis.

Only 15 months until PyeongChang.


Summary of the IOC Re-Testing from 2008-2012 – To Date

Over the last few months, the media has been awash with stories about positive doping findings from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandated re-testing of the samples from the London and Beijing Games, using more modern methods of detecting performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). It has been difficult to follow, as the press releases from the IOC have come in flurries, and there is confusion as to how many athletes have been affected and how many medals will be re-distributed.

To date, however, there has not been a summary of the number of positive tests, the types of substances used, and which sports and nations were most affected. Although there were some suspicions based on the press releases, it seems appropriate to produce such a summary, although admittedly, it may well be a work in progress, as the re-testing is ongoing.

First of all, our sources are mainly the IOC press releases and releases from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). All of the IOC press releases can be found at The IOC press releases contain summaries of the decisions, but at the end of each summary they note “The full decision is available here” with a link to a PDF of the full decision. CAS decisions are available on their website, under Jurisprudence –> Recent Decisions, or Database. Only cases that have been appealed to the CAS will have a ruling by that body. In a few cases, in attempting to find the specific substances named, we have relied on press reports, although that has been rare.

Now to the summary. The decisions have been coming from the IOC since April of this year, with the most recent one released on 25 November 2016. During that time 99 athletes from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics have been sanctioned on re-testing for PED use. There are actually 104 cases, as 5 athletes have tested positive for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as follows:

  • Hripsime Khurshudyan (F­­–ARM / WLT)
  • İntiqam Zairov (M–AZE / WLT)
  • Oksana Menkova (F–BLR / ATH)
  • Ilya Ilyin (M–KAZ / WLT)
  • Maiya Maneza (F–KAZ / WLT)

Here is the breakdown by nations of the 104 offenses:

NOC ###
Russia 33
Belarus 13
Kazakhstan 12
Ukraine 12
Turkey 8
Azerbaijan 6
Armenia 4
China 3
Moldova 3
Cuba 2
Colombia 1
Spain 1
Georgia 1
Greece 1
Morocco 1
Qatar 1
Slovenia 1
Uzbekistan 1
Total 104

Of note, fully 86 of the 104, or 82.7%, come from nations from the former Soviet Union.

Which sports have been the most affected? If you’ve been following this, you surely realize that athletics (track & field) and weightlifting seem to have been mentioned the most, and that is accurate. In fact, 92.3% of the sanctions have come from those two sports, with athletics having 49 offenses, and weightlifting 47. The others sanctions have come from wrestling (5), cycling (2), and swimming (1).

What have they been taking? The various sanctions have been for 14 different substances, in many cases with the athlete(s) taking 2 or more PEDs, but by far the most frequently used PEDs were Turinabol (64 cases) and Stanozolol (36 cases). The full breakdown is as follows:

Substance(s) / Violation(s) ###
Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (Turinabol) 64
Stanozolol 36
Biological passport offense 14
Oxandrolone 7
GHRP-2 3
Acetazolamide 2
Drostanolone 2
3a-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one 1
Ipamorelin 1
Methandienone 1
Methylhexanamine 1
Sibutramine 1
Tamoxifen 1
Grand Total 136

The total is much more than 104 because of the athletes taking multiple substances. Also note that 14 cases are for abnormalities in the biological passport, in which cases we do not always know the precise substances involved.

Of the above, Turinabol, Stanozolol, Oxandrolone, Drostanolone, Methandienone, and 3a-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one (there will not be a pop quiz on this) are anabolic steroids. GHRP-2 is a type of growth hormone releasing peptide, a stronger analogue of the older GHRP-6, with fewer side effects.

EPO is erythropoietin, which increases red blood cell volume, and thus may increase oxygen carrying capacity by the blood, and is usually used by endurance athletes. One of these cases was used by a mountain biking cyclist, Blaža Klemenčič (SLO), but the other case was in a Russian weightlifter.

Ipamorelin is not often detected but stimulates growth hormone secretagogue receptors, which then stimulate growth hormone release. Methylhexanamine is a sympathomimetic drug, meaning it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – the section of the nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” phenomenon. It is used as a stimulant or dietary supplement and may be helpful in keeping weight down.

Acetazolamide is a diuretic which increases urine formation. It has no performance enhancing effects, but is used by athletes to dilute the urine, and thus decrease the concentration of other drugs in the urine, ostensibly to allow them to defeat the tests.

Finally, tamoxifen affects estrogen receptors and is best known as a treatment for women with breast cancer. It is used by athletes to mask the effects of anabolic steroids, especially gynecomastia, or production of breast tissue in men.

By far the two biggies above are Turinabol and Stanozolol. Turinabol was invented in the former East Germany (GDR) – no big shock there. It’s chemical name is variably known as dehydrochloromethyltestosterone, or chlorodehydromethyltestosterone. It is a derivative of testosterone, the male anabolic-androgenic steroid, which has been modified by attachment of a hydroxyl group (-OH), a choride ion (-Cl), and a methyl group (-CH3) to the basic sterol molecule. Turinabol was the main drug used the East German state-sponsored doping program, as later revealed by the release of documents from the Stasi, or East German secret police.

Stanozolol is another anabolic-androgenic steroid created by modifying the testosterone molecule by the addition of a hydroxyl group and three methyl groups. Stanozolol was best known by bodybuilders and other strength athletes as Winstrol, and was the drug that caused Ben Johnson to have a positive doping test after the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100 metre final.

It should be noted that despite many rumors about poor drug testing programs in Kenya and Ethiopia, which could benefit their outstanding distance runners, there were no positive re-tests from either of those nations. Now, one could argue that those athletes would be most likely to use EPO, and tests for that are difficult, and involve checking for reticulocytes (a type of immature red blood cell) in the blood. After 4 or 8 years, it’s not certain how valid that test would be.

One question many people have is how many medals will be lost and who will they go to? The second part of that is difficult to answer and we’ll address it in a bit. In all, 52 medals have been lost because of the re-testing – 14 golds, 18 silvers, 20 bronzes. The most affected athlete is Kazakh weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, who loses gold medals from both 2008 and 2012. In this case, weightlifting is much more affected than athletics, losing 35 medals (8 golds, 7 silvers, 18 bronzes) to athletics’ 17.

Here are the nations most affected in terms of medals lost:

NOC Medals
Russia 19
Kazakhstan 9
Belarus 6
Ukraine 5
China 3
Armenia 2
Moldova 2
Turkey 2
Azerbaijan 1
Cuba 1
Greece 1
Uzbekistan 1

So who will these medals go to. Sorry, can’t help you there yet, at least not officially. The way that medals are redistributed is Byzantine and complex. First, the International Federations (IFs) are responsible for changing results, not the IOCs. But it is the IOC that re-distributes medals, so we often have to wait for word from both the IF and the IOC. It is not always as easy as moving up the next placed athlete to a medal position, although that is the most common scenario. But the IOC has left medal positions empty in the past, going as far back as 1972. Further, not every athlete who competes is drug tested, so for the famous example from weightlifting where the original 9th-place finisher (Tomasz Zielinski [POL]) in the 2012 94 kg class could move up to bronze medal position, was Zielinski even subjected to drug testing? We don’t know as that is not always released.

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, notably the NFL where a positive drug test costs you 4 games, or ¼th of a season, versus 2 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 most professional sports.

The game goes on. The athletes will often look for an advantage, or “The Edge,” and the drug testers will continue to try to catch them. This is certainly far from the last we will hear on this problem.


Media Schedule for Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

Amazingly, the 2018 Winter Olympics are only 17 months away. This does not give US media much time to start writing about the 2018 Winter Games, so I have prepared a primer to help them. This does not apply to the US international sports media, such as Phil Hersh, Chris Clarey, Tim Layden, Alan Abrahamson, Nick Zaccardi, Chris Brennan, and several others, who understand the Olympics. But for the bulk of the US media, who are upset that they are not allowed to cover the only sport they know anything about, football (this means you, Mike & Mike), the following should help you focus on the topics you need to write about prior to Pyeongchang.

February 2017 – It is 1 year before Games, and you have been assigned by your sports editor to cover the Olympic beat for the next year, because they already have 37 reporters covering football, so you need to start looking for negative things to write

March 2017 – investigate the costs of the 2018 Winter Olympics – if under control, ignore this and write nothing about it; if costs seem exorbitant, start a series of “investigative” articles on this topic

April 2017 – look for problems with environmental aspects of building venues for 2018 Winter Olympics. If none exist, ignore this and write nothing about it. If there appear to be damages to the environment anywhere within several planets of Pyeongchang, start a series of “investigative” articles in this topic

May 2017 – begin discussions with people who live in the area of Pyeongchang and ask questions if they have had any negative effects from the forthcoming Olympic Games. If they have nothing to report on that topic, ignore it and either write nothing about it, or consider embellishing something on the topic to fill some space in the paper. If anyone, anywhere, in Korea or the Pacific Rim, has anything negative to say, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic

June 2017 – look for problems with the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, specifically looking for any evidence of corruption in the OCOG. If any leader of the Pyeongchang OCOG has left office or retired for some unknown reason, that is an obvious sign that some corruption or fraud has occurred. If nothing can be found on this topic, ignore it, and write stories about FIFA, talking about how corrupt they are, and add in filler information on corruption within the IOC, and extrapolate that to explain to people why the Pyeongchang OCOG is likely corrupt. If any corruption is found within the OCOG, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic.

July 2017 – look for evidence of rare diseases within Korea or the Pacific Rim. If any of them have ever had deleterious effects on human beings, or other species, at any time within this millennium, or the previous one, begin interviewing every infectious disease expert in the Northern Hemisphere. If none of them think this is really a problem, expand this search to the Southern Hemisphere. Once you have found one medical expert who thinks this rare disease is a reason why the 2018 Winter Olympics should be cancelled, begin a series of “investigative” articles on this topic. It will help if you can find someone who had the disease and interview them on the terrible effects the disease caused. A child or a baby who had the disease is even better. If no one can be found who says this, interview anyone who had the disease, and explain why it could have caused serious problems. If you are unable to do this well, discuss with plaintiff attorneys who advertise on late night television. If you are unable to find any evidence of a rare disease affecting Korea and which may impact the 2018 Winter Olympics, return to the investigative topics you have begun in March through June.

August 2017 – water is an important topic at any Olympic Games. Investigate further environmental effects on the water in the Pyeongchang area. If none are found, investigate water in the Pyongyang area – they are not the same city, or even in the same country, but you may not have realized this yet. Have someone do bacterial and viral analyses of water in the area, which worked well in Rio. Because all water has some degree of bacteria and viruses, you will find something here that you can probably write about for several months in an “investigative” series of articles about why the Olympics should be moved from Pyeongchang, or Pyongyang, or whichever city you think they will be held in.

September 2017 – the Games are only 5 months away now so it is imperative that you have written something negative about the Olympic Games by now. If you have not, you might consider a different line of work than as a US (non-Olympic beat) sportswriter. Specifically you should consider going back to writing about college or professional football, where you are able to pronounce all the names (even Brett Favre and T. J. Houshmandzadeh) and everything about the sports are wonderful to the US media. Specifically nobody ever takes any PEDs, although compared to Olympic athletes, they are never actually tested to any degree.

October 2017 – Speaking of PEDs if you have not been able to write much negative yet about the Olympics, now is a good time to focus on doping and drug usage and how many Olympic athletes are caught for doping. Remember to neglect the fact that the IOC, the IFs, and WADA / USADA test far more frequently and more stringently than the NFL, MLB, the NBA, and NHL. None of those athletes could actually be taking drugs because Roger Goodell and Adam Silver would never allow negative publicity concerning their athletes. You should be able to write multiple good stories about PED use in Olympic athletes.

November 2017 – now is the time to focus on the weather and the lack of snow in Pyeongchang. You can write this story whether it is true or not, because it always play well before a Winter Olympics, and you can always work a connection with climate change, or global warming, or whatever is the correct PC term. Stories about lots of snowmaking going on or the military bringing in snow will work well. Although it is late for your “investigative” stories, you could get several stories on why the IOC should not have given the 2018 Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang because it is not actually a winter resort. Although it is, Pyongyang is not, but that doesn’t really matter, because its in West Korea, or someplace like that.

December 2017 – you’re running out of time. You’ve looked at various problems concerning the 2018 Winter Olympics so now is a good time to roll out the articles on why the Games should be moved from Pyeongchang (or Pyongyang in East Germany, or wherever they are), because of the multiple problems. Here it always works well to enlist a US congressperson or senator who 1) is demanding that the Games be moved; 2) thinks they should be cancelled and the US hold its own Olympics; 3) has no idea where the IOC is based, or who is in it, but he/she knows that they are corrupt, although they have no idea what an NOC, IF, OCOG, or NGB is; 4) is in a tenuous race for re-election and could really use some television exposure, which he/she will get from going after the Olympics and the IOC. A good question to ask and focus on here with the legislator is, “Should the Olympics be held at one central site every 4 years instead of moving them to different cities?” Nobody has ever suggested that before.

January 2018 – time is really short. It looks like the 2018 Winter Olympics may actually be held in Pyeongchang, so now is the time to see if you recognize some of the names of the athletes who will be competing. A good story to focus on will be Michael Phelps, the surfer who will be going after his 73rd gold medal in Pyeongchang – oh wait, since he was a surfer maybe that’s the Summer Olympics, but it doesn’t really matter. Nobody knows who any of the Olympic athletes are anyway because we/you never tell anybody about them except during the Olympics, and even if we did, we can’t spell their names or pronounce them correctly, because they’re from foreign countries, like East Korea, where NFLer T. J. Houshmandzadeh is from.

February 2018 – ba-da-bing. The 2018 Winter Olympics are a reality. They are held for 2 weeks from 9-25 February 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea (not North Korea). There is plenty of snow, and nobody gets any disease. There are no major problems with the venues and the athletes put on superb athletic performances. Everybody enjoys themselves for 2 weeks and athletes and officials from 100s of nations get together in peace and have a wonderful time. The Koreans citizens enjoy them greatly, and wish they could hold more Olympic Games in the future. Try to avoid these facts in any of your stories.

Post 2018 Winter Olympics – time to write your summing up articles. Focus on how you actually knew that the Games would run perfectly and be held superbly. You’re not even sure who could have written anything differently. Similar to US politicians, who will use this opportunity to get photo ops with our Olympic athletes, whose names they cannot pronounce, and will likely mis-pronounce on videos, you should use this time to suck up to some of the gold medalists and write first person articles about them. It could work out well for you, because maybe there’s a book in there for you, and after all, haven’t you always loved the Olympics?

Late 2018-2019 – the book deal didn’t work out, because you kept mispronouncing the name of the gold medalist you were trying to suck up to. Your sports editor has still not realized what a boon you would be to college football coverage and you are still stuck on this God-forsaken international sports beat. Time to look into stories on the problems coming up with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Surely these will exist because Tokyo had the Olympics before, you seem to recall it was in 1967, so they certainly must have been corrupt back then. Start writing stories about why the 2020 Olympics should be moved to another site. Pyeongchang, Korea would be good, and its close by and its your favorite city.

The OlyMADMen and OlympStats and Sports-Reference

So who am I and who are all these crazy people I work with doing Olympic stats? I do most of the posts on Olympstats, but you will see some posts from Hilary Evans and Jeroen Heijmans. Hilary, Jeroen, and I work in a group of 14 Olympic statistorians (my own term), who have been working on Olympic statistics for many years. We call ourselves the OlyMADMen, which reflects our crazy infatuation with collecting data about the Olympic Games.

I started collecting Olympic stats back in 1964 – yes, I am that old – when I was 12-years-old. This coalesced into real data in the early 1980s when I got my first PC. In the late 1990s I joined with two Norwegians Arild Gjerde and Magne Teigen to combine our work into databases of all Olympic results and all Olympic athletes. Also helping us was David Foster, a British Olympic expert. Jeroen Heijmans (aka Geronimo) joined us in about 2002 – this was important, for Jeroen is an IT specialist in his day job, and helped us convert our databases into an online web site. This became our private web site,, which we still use today as our private research site.

In about 2007-2008 we were joined by Hilary Evans, aka the Crazy Welsh Sheep Farmer, and Estonian Taavi Kalju. Both are dedicated genealogists who helped us find a plethora of new info on some of the older Olympians.

Over the next decade we were joined by three Germans – Wolf Reinhardt, Ralf Regnitter, and Ralph Schlüter; Austrian Martin Kellner, and two more Norwegians, Morten Aarlia Torp and Stein Opdahl. We then added Paul Tchir, an Arabic studies specialist, aka Canadian Paul. Paul is also the world’s expert on oldest living Olympians. In the last few years the OlyMADMen expanded to include Ian Morrison, from Britain but now living in Mallorca, Spain; and Canadian Michele Walker, our first female “OlyMADMan” a name for which we now apologize to Michele.

Our level of expertise, and the comprehensive nature of our data, is pretty high. Do we make mistakes? Sadly, yes, because we are 14 humans, but we have more data and stats and expertise on the Olympics than any similar group. We have far more than what can be found in Wikipedia, just for starters. You may know of the site (SR/olympics), which is very good, but that is actually also our site – a bit more on that in a moment.

In addition to the current base group of 14, which sadly lost original member Magne Teigen by his passing last year, we have a collection of experts in various sports and nationalities that assist us a great deal to make specific corrections to those sports and nations. These include Fernando Arrechea in Spain, Paweł Wudarski of Poland, George Masin for fencing (a former fencing Olympian), Jørn Jensen in Denmark, and several others.

Why do we this? For most of us, it is purely a hobby, but its something we enjoy  immensely. We’ve been collecting this data for so long and from so many dedicated experts on the topic, that we now estimate that we have about 185 person-years of work that have produced our databases and information.

In 2008 we produced our first public website, the above mentioned SR/olympics site. That is our data, which is downloaded periodically from the research site, however, we do not control it as closely, as it is run by sports-reference. However, we get many complimentary comments about this site and this brings us to the true purpose of this post.

SR/olympics will be going away sometime in the not too distant future. The reason for that is within the last few months we have had some good news as we have completed discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have them use as part of their Olympic Statistical Database. Because of this, the SR/olympics site will eventually mostly close down, although it will still include Olympic data on baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, to complement the SR data (which is superb) on those sports.

So that’s a bit on who we are, and some information on why we do this. It also lets you know that things will change in the coming months, but eventually you should be able to see Olympedia as a public site managed by the IOC, although we will still provide the updates to the site. In addition, this blog, will remain in its current structure and we will continue to contribute to it.

As the Rio Olympics end, we have enjoyed providing the world with our statistical data and we hope you have found it useful, and perhaps fun to read and study. If we can make it better in anyway in the future, please let us know. You can reach me here or e-mail via

Allyson Felix – Post-Rio

Allyson Felix won 2 gold medals in relays in Rio de Janeiro and a silver medal in the 400 metres. This gives her 6 gold medals and 3 silvers in track & field athletics. Here is where she now stands on various Olympic medal lists:

  • Felix moves into a tie for 1st among all women in track & field athletics, with 9 medals, equalling Merlene Ottey (JAM).
  • She moves into a tie for 3rd among all track & field athletes, with 9 medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN) with 12, and Carl Lewis (USA) with 10, and tied with Usain Bolt (JAM). Counting the 1906 Olympics, Felix also trails Ray Ewry (USA) with 10 (8, not including 1906) and equals Martin Sheridan (USA) with 9 (4, not including 1906).
  • She moves into 4th among all US women in any sport, with 9 Olympic medals. The only ones ahead of her are three US swimmers who have won 12 Olympic medals – Dara Torres, Jenny Thompson, and Natalie Coughlin.
  • With 9 medals, Felix is now tied for 36th among all Olympians, including all sports; and tied for 13th among female Olympians, all sports.
  • With her 4×400 gold medal, Felix equals the mark of Evelyn Ashford (USA) and Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), as the only women to win three Olympic gold medals in the same event in track & field athletics, with Ashford doing so in the 4×100 relay and Richards-Ross in the 4×400.
  • Felix moves into a tie for 5th among all female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. Felix trails Larysa Latynina (URS-GYM) with 9, Birgit Fischer-Schmidt (GDR/GER-CAN) and Jenny Thompson (USA-SWI) with 8 each, and Věra Čáslavská (TCH-GYM) with 7. Six other women have won 6 Olympic gold medals, three in the Winter Games and three in the Summer Games: Marit Bjørgen (NOR-CCS), Lyubov Yegorova (EUN/RUS-CCS), Lidiya Skoblikova (URS-SSK), Valentina Vezzali (ITA-FEN), Kristin Otto (GDR-SWI), and Amy Van Dyken (USA-SWI).
  • Felix is now tied for 5th among all Olympic track & field athletes, with 6 gold medals, trailing only Paavo Nurmi (FIN), Carl Lewis (USA), and Usain Bolt (JAM), with 9; and Ray Ewry (USA), with 8 (10, including 1906).
  • Felix is now =2nd among US female Olympians, in any sport, with 6 gold medals. The @TeamUSA record is held by Jenny Thompson (SWI), with 8, while Felix is tied with Amy Van Dyken (SWI), who has won 6.
  • Felix has won medals at 4 consecutive Olympics (2004-16) in athletics. This trails only Merlene Ottey (JAM), who won medals at 5 Olympic Games, although not consecutively, and Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM), who won at her 5th consecutive Olympics in Rio. Felix’s 4 consecutive Olympics winning medals is tied for 2nd with 2 other women (Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA), Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL)) and 6 other men. Among Americans, Felix is tied in this category with Joyner-Kersee, Al Oerter, Carl Lewis, and Ray Ewry (counting 1906).
  • Felix has won gold medals at 3 consecutive Olympic Games, tieing her, among women Olympians, with Sanya Richards-Ross (USA), Evelyn Ashford (USA), and Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska (POL), although Kirszenstein-Szewińska’s were not consecutive. The men’s record is 4, held by Al Oerter (USA), Carl Lewis (USA), and  if you count 1906, Ray Ewry (USA).

100, 200, and 4×100 Medals

Usain Bolt did it, winning the 100-200-4×100 triple gold medal for the 3rd consecutive Olympic Games (2008-16), an unprecedented triple. Winning medals in the 100, 200, and 4×100 is not that unusual, as it has now been done 25 times at the Olympics, by 22 athletes, but winning gold medals in all 3 events is.

Bolt is the only one to have won medals in all three events at 3 Olympics, much less gold medals. Renate Stecher (GDR) won medals in all sprint events in 1972 and 1976, the only other sprinter to do so more than once.

Eight athletes have won gold medals in all three events at one Olympics and they are mythic names. Here are the athletes who have achieved the sprint triple.

Name Gender NOC Year
Jesse Owens M USA 1936
Bobby Joe Morrow M USA 1956
Carl Lewis M USA 1984
Usain Bolt M JAM 2008
Usain Bolt M JAM 2012
Usain Bolt M JAM 2016
Fanny Blankers-Koen F NED 1948
Betty Cuthbert F AUS 1956
Wilma Rudolph F USA 1960
Florence Griffith-Joyner F USA 1988

In Rio, Tori Bowie pulled off an unusual feat, winning a gold-silver-bronze in the three sprint events, with gold in the relay, silver in the 100, and bronze in the 200. This has also been done before, however, now in fact 4 times, and 3 times by women. Here are the athletes to have hit for the cycle in the sprints:

Name Gender NOC Year
Justin Gatlin M USA 2004
Renate Stecher F GDR 1976
Carmelita Jeter F USA 2012
Tori Bowie F USA 2016

What about just winning medals in all three events at 1 Olympic Games? Here are the 25 times that has been done, by 11 men (13 occurrences), and 11 times by women (12 occurrences)

Name Gender NOC Year
Charley Paddock M USA 1920
Jesse Owens M USA 1936
Barney Ewell M USA 1948
Bobby Joe Morrow M USA 1956
Thane Baker M USA 1956
Valeriy Borzov M URS 1972
Carl Lewis M USA 1984
Justin Gatlin M USA 2004
Usain Bolt M JAM 2008
Usain Bolt M JAM 2012
Yohan Blake M JAM 2012
Usain Bolt M JAM 2016
André de Grasse M CAN 2016
Fanny Blankers-Koen F NED 1948
Betty Cuthbert F AUS 1956
Wilma Rudolph F USA 1960
Edith McGuire F USA 1964
Renate Stecher F GDR 1972
Renate Stecher F GDR 1976
Annegret Richter F FRG 1976
Florence Griffith Joyner F USA 1988
Veronica Campbell-Brown F JAM 2004
Carmelita Jeter F USA 2012
Shelly-Ann Fraser F JAM 2012
Tori Bowie F USA 2016

Note that this has been twice in the same year several times – by men in 1956 by Thane Baker and Bobby Joe Morrow, in 2012 by Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, and among the women, in 1976 by Renate Stecher and Annegret Richter, and in 2012 by Carmelita Jeter and Shelly-Ann Fraser (-Pryce).