No more bread and circuses: London 2012 has turned into history while the Paralympic cauldron has been extinguished in a ‘Festival of Flame’. Just about time for a final roundup of the statistics of the games and the last maps that were still missing.
In the United Kingdom the spirit of the Olympics lived on in the Paralympics as created a similar media coverage (which has less been the case in many other countries). A lot of the public debate in Britain in the final debate of the Paralympics focussed on an increased relevance of the games – and that the results have started getting an equal importance as the Olympic medal counts. As already noticed at the Vancouver winter games, a comparison of the results showed some interesting differences in the achievements of the participating nations. This is shown in the following map animation of two cartograms showing each country’s share in the total medal counts (switching between the Paralympics and the Olympics 2012):
One of the striking differences is the comparably low achievement of the USA in the Paralympics (who are top of the Olympic medal table). The Guardian explains, that “there has been much debate around the lack of coverage in the US media and lack of profile for its Paralympic stars. That translates into a comparative lack of investment in the Paralympic team and talent ID and development.” Another strong nation that strikes out is Ukraine, which established a national Paralympic centre in 2002 and went up in the medal counts ever since. China’s growing investment in Paralympic success is similarly striking.
Other patterns as explained for the Olympic Games, however, persist in the Paralympic medal counts. Most importantly, the global inequality in medal success – already predetermined by the number of participating athletes – still dominates the overall picture of the final medal counts at the Paralympics, which are shown in the following map:
But it does not always need to be a map. Statistics can sometimes be much better understood in other visual form: Quite popular proved the scatterplot that showed the number of athletes plotted against the number of medals of the Olympic games. The same graphic for the Paralympics highlights a similar (and similarly unsurprising) correlation, but compared to the Olympics also shows that there are fewer extreme ‘overachievers’ – and the individual country positions are very different than at the Olympics (most notably that of the USA as shown in the map above):
Inspired enough now? Well, that is enough Olympics for this year…if you want live through all of this summer’s glory (and desperation) again, check out all the other Olympic mappings on my website:
The maps on this page have been created by Benjamin D. Hennig of the SASI Research Group (University of Sheffield). You are welcome to use the maps under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0); please contact me for further details – I also appreciate a notification if you use my maps. High resolution and customized maps are available on request.