The politically controversial 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (Russia) are history. What’s left as a legacy beyond the politics is the usual roundup of where the medals went and which nations managed to surprise or disappoint. The final medal count saw Russia being top of the table with not only the most medals (33), but also most gold (11) and silver (11). 26 nations managed to win at least one medal. Here is the Worldmapper-style view of all medals, showing the countries of the world resized according to their total medals won at the 2014 Winter Olympics (as well as the individual success in each medal category):
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):
“It’s Official – London 2012 to be Biggest Paralympic Games Ever“, was the proud announcement at the Official Website of the Paralympic Movement ahead of this year’s Paralympic Games in London. While the games can not yet compete with the Olympics (over 10,000 athletes came to London just a few weeks ago), a new record has been set with over 4,200 athletes taking part at the 2012 Paralympics in the British capital. According to Wikipedia, this is “an increase of 250 athletes in comparison to the 2008 Summer Paralympics. They will represent 164 countries, 17 more than in Beijing. Fourteen countries will be making their Paralympic Games début: Antigua and Barbuda, Brunei, Cameroon, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique, North Korea, San Marino, the Solomon Islands, and the US Virgin Islands“.
Leaving absolute numbers aside, the participation patterns in the Paralympics as shown in the following Worldmapper-style cartogram are not that strikingly different to those from the Olympics (a comparison to the Olympic Games can be found here). However, many interesting differences can still be spotted when looking at the details: China, and even more so Brazil are amongst the countries who (in relation) play an even bigger role, while the European dominance is slightly reduced, partly due to smaller shares of Eastern Europe (where Ukraine strikes out as one of the larger participants). In the Pacific, New Zealand’s size shrunk from is far larger number of athletes at the Olympics. The following map shows in proportion where all the sportsmen and women have traveled to London from this year (the two inset maps show the world’s population distribution in comparison and a conventional land area map as a reference):
Almost everything has been said and shown about the Olympics by now – not just in the maps on this website, but virtually everywhere. The Guardian did extensive juggling of Olympic data resulting in alternative ways of looking at medal counts, and so did many others (such as the excellent graphics team of the New York Times). One last thing from here though…
What was quite interesting to see while working out the statistics for the cartograms featured on this website was the perhaps obvious correlation between the size of a national team and the number of medals that it received. That is of course a correlation that one would expect:
Following the foundation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1890 the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens mark the beginning of the modern Olympic Games. 14 nations and 241 athletes competed in 43 events back then. The number of participating nations, of athletes and awarded medals has grown ever since. At the 30th Summer Olympics in London this year, 204 nations participated with 10,820 athletes who competed for medals in 302 events. After mapping the picture of this year’s event, it is also interesting to see how the modern Olympics of all time compare, with some interesting differences but also persisting patterns of success. The following map series shows where all the medals of the Olympics in the past 116 years went to (with the main map combining Summer and Winter games, and the two smaller maps showing the two separately):
“A raucous pageant of popular culture” (Guardian) was the last act of the 30th Olympic Games in London, and discussion about the legacy of the Games started. From a global perspective, that legacy is often measured in sporting success – however great the ‘spirit’ of the Olympics is emphasized. So it comes as little surprise that the medal tables are revisited over and over again, with alternative ways of looking at the sporting success having proven quite popular this year. But despite an extraordinary performance of the host nation and some disappointments in other parts of the world, the overall picture of Olympic success stories is of little surprises.
Olympic inequalities already started with an imbalance of participating athletes from around the world (as shown in the map here) which hardly reflects the global population distribution. That pattern is carried forward to the winner’s podium, where in large the wealthier parts of the world are represented (even if some great exceptions have made quite some headlines). The following map shows the final medal tables in Worldmapper-style cartograms, with the main map representing the total medal count, and the smaller inset map splitting these numbers into separate maps of gold, silver and bronze medals, each resizing a country according to the number of medals that it has received (compare these maps to the map of participants and the map of the world’s population):