2012 Paralympic and Olympic Medal maps

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):

Cartogram / Map animation of the medal counts at the 2012 London Paralympic and Olympics Games in comparison
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Medals vs Athletes

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:
Scatterplot of the medal counts and number of athletes at the 2012 Olympics Continue reading

Olympic World(s) 1896-2012

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):

Cartogram / Map of all-time medals at the modern Olympic Games
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Olympic legacy: London 2012 medal maps

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):

Cartogram / Map of the medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London
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An inspired generation: London 2012 athletes

In a “Five-Ring Opening Circus, Weirdly and Unabashedly British” (New York Times) host city London welcomed the world to the 2012 Olympics. The games are meant to inspire a generation, which is the motto of the event.
And there was plenty of time to be inspired at the opening ceremony, especially while thousands of the more than 10,000 competitors took part in the athletes’ parade. But the size of a country’s team hardly reflects its population size, rather than the efforts and capabilities that are put into sending athletes to the Olympics. It is perhaps not surprising that Team GB of the host nation brings on the largest team with 541 athletes this time (or 557 according to the Guardian). The wealthier parts of the world tend to have the lager teams, with Europe dominating the stage by far. At the other end of the scale are countries such as Bhutan (and others) with only two athletes.
Beyond all the ancient spirit, the Olympics are an unequal game. Not only in the number of participants at the event, but eventually also in the results that will see a lot of the wealthy world dominate the medal rankings (which I mapped for the Vancouver Olympics). Nevertheless, part of the original idea is a peaceful competition of the nations, which many still see persist over all commercialisation and other points of criticism. In this light, this year’s athletes are the generation that has been inspired to be part of that and who shall inspire future generations, regardless of their success in bare medal terms. The following map shows where all the over 10,000 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):

Cartogram / Map of athletes participating in the 2012 Olympics in London
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Qatar – A Population Cartogram

High hopes of England have vanished on today’s draw of the forthcoming FIFA Football World Cup hosts, with Russia getting the event for 2018. More surprise was caused by Qatar which will be hosting the 2022 World Cup: With an area of 11,437 sq km and a population of approximately 1.7 million people, by far the smallest World Cup host in Fifa’s history.
In fact, Qatar is so small that we didn’t even bother to put up an individual map for Quatar in the Worldmapper World Population Atlas, but merged it with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain (Russia has its own map though, despite beating England’s bid).
With its new fame, Quatar’s population shall now get its own population cartogram which gives space to all the people living there and removes all those sandy areas in the south and west. Here is the Qatar gridded population cartogram:

Map of global GDP growth 2010-2015
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