Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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 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 ( 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 – 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.


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.