Which is the greatest sports nation of all time?
To answer the question, let’s start out with some assumptions:
- Number of olympic medals is a relevant measure of success in sports.
- A gold medal is twice as valuable as a silver medal and a silver is twice as valuable as a bronze medal (weight: 4, 2, 1).
- The sheer number of Chinese, Americans et al. can’t automatically make them the greatest sports nations, so we need to calculate per capita.
- A few superstars in a tiny nation = skewed results: The Wentzel-family has brought 7 medals to Liechtenstein (population 38 000). But one athletic family can’t make a great sports nation, so we need a lower cut-off; let’s say a population of 1 million.
So let’s calculate: Weighted number of medals per Olympic Game (in which the country participated) divided by population in millions. And then, a bit crude, we exclude all countries with a population less than 1,000,000.
And the greatest sports nation of all time turns out to be: Norway!
Then of course you ask yourself; shouldn’t variety matter? Can you just ski your way to the top like that? To be debated and continued… (Countries that are no longer with us are excluded, which is a practical way to remove GDR from the equation).
Click to enlarge pictures or see the graph and table on Tableau Public:
Data from (Swedish) wikipedia (summer of 2018): https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_%C3%B6ver_olympiska_spelens_medaljf%C3%B6rdelning https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_%C3%B6ver_l%C3%A4nder_efter_folkm%C3%A4ngd