The greatest sports nation of all time

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).

Norway is the greatest sports nation of all time

Greatest sports nations of all time - table

Click to enlarge pictures or see the graph and table on Tableau Public:

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Data from (Swedish) wikipedia (summer of 2018):


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