Within hours of the closing ceremony, a team of statisticians at the Royal Statistical Society and London's Imperial College produced an alternative medal table based on these key factors and combined them into one variable. This more objective view explains the number of medals won per country on the basis of its population and GDP per capita. The team employed GDP per capita rather than total GDP, since they had already taken population size into account in this approach. If you do this, a different league table is the outcome.
Team GB actually climbs one place in the rankings to second, and the USA, who won the conventional medal table, fall from the top ten. Russia wins the alternative medal table, but if only gold medals were taken into consideration, the UK would have finished top.
Dizzy heights indeed. In Beijing, the UK came well down the alternative league table, showing that London 2012 was indeed a very special Olympics for Team GB.
The alternative rankings are: 1. Russia 2. UK 3. China 4. Hungary 5. South Korea 6. Ukraine 7. Australia 8. Cuba 9. Jamaica 10. Belarus
Statistical wizards among you are recommended to explore the spreadsheet on which the alternative table is based.
Dick Skellington 16 August 2012
The views expressed in this post, as in all posts on Society Matters, are the views of the author, not The Open University.
Cartoon by Catherine Pain