Many readers have been expecting me to post a follow-up to my Olympic analysis of four years ago. I was in fact expecting it myself and even started collecting data, but somehow it has not happened. Fortunately, regular contributor (and some time beer coaster calculator), James Glover has stepped into the void.
It’s at about this time every four years that the same old boring analysis of Olympic Medals [not for everyone! Ed.] is brought out showing Olympic medals per capita, per GDP, per dollar spent etc. While this is all very useful, this particular Olympics it has failed to show Australia “punching above its weight” and is thus, in reality, the dominant sporting nation not just on the planet, but in the whole of history as well. The Fairfax press has tried to prove this thesis, but there is a spoiler. However you cut it we came out of the top half dozen nations. Personally I don’t think coming 10th in the gold medal count is really that bad. At least we beat the Kiwis right? Hmmm, that gets me thinking…
Actually it also occurs to me that were we just to reach out across the Ditch and extend a filial hand to our beloved New Zealand cousins, combined our trans-Tasman teams and competed under an ANZAC flag we would have finished an even more respectable 5th just behind Russia.
So this got me thinking. How would other groups of nations, alliances or indeed, past empires, have fared in the Games of the XXXth Olympiad? I can’t guarantee my geography is precise (and it is not up for discussion) but here is my best take on it. For these purposes I have not included the US in the British Empire because frankly it was their choice to leave without seeking permission.
In the interests of fairness I have allocated only part of the tally in some cases to take into account that (i) the Romans did not conquer Scotland or Ireland (so 50% of Team GB), and (ii) Quebec is not part of the Anglosphere (so they only get 75% of Canada’s tally – this on advice of a non-Quebecois Canadian). Feel free to continue this game – Axis vs Allies, the French Empire of Bonaparte vs British Empire at the same time. Endless fun now our cold winter days are no longer warmed by the Olympic flame. Interesting to see that in terms of Empires the British come behind the Mongolian Empire and the Roman Empire wins on weighted medals (3,2,1) if not on gold medals alone.
In any event the result proves the strongest alliance of all time is NATO – both the strongest military alliance and, if they wished, the strongest sporting one. Maybe money doesn’t buy you medals but it would seem that missiles do!