The 2016 Olympics in Rio might be different.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Great Britain fared poorly. They took home only one gold and ranked #36 among medal winners. At Beijing in 2008, their medal count was 47 and they ranked #4. And now in London, 2012, they are faring even better. What happened?
After Atlanta, the UK decided to elevate their Olympic performance. With money from the national lottery, they funded athletes’ living expenses, training, nutrition, physiotherapy. Combining world class coaches, talented athletes, consistent funding and wise leadership, they got Olympic gold.
Or, we could say that…
TALENT times MONEY equals MEDALS.
And that takes us to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and August 5, 2016. Western Europe and the US have been top Olympic medals winners. However, emerging economies are becoming more affluent and allocating more resources to women. Argentina is using a levy on mobile fund subscriptions to fund elite sports. Former communist nations continue to focus on athletic performance. Meanwhile though, most euro zone nations have less money to spend.
Does a shift in worldwide affluence portend a new Olympic order?
To see the current Olympic ranking, this Huffington Post interactive is superb. It not only presents bubbles to show medal winners but then weights them according to GDP and population. Based on her GDP, for example, teeny Grenada is actually faring quite well. The Guardian was my source for information on the UK Olympic turnaround and I found the Olympic “success” formula in an insightful FT article. This Globe and Mail article is also excellent.