Olympic economics: All about the dollars, not just the gold

a0b9c3b0dbaab6b7c7fedc01bdebef49

Can money buy Olympic medals? Not exactly, but a new study by two Goldman Sachs analysts shows that a country’s income can have a significant effect on how their athletes perform and — in turn — how many medals they bring home.

The report, called “The Olympics and Economics” by José Ursúa and Kamakshya Trivedi, takes a close look at the effect money and income can have on a country’s overall success and within specific sports at the games. They took a look at variables including GDP per capita, the ratio of income to that of the US, democracy and hosting duties, and then studied their combined effects on winning medals.

Turns out, richer countries — those with “superior growth environments and higher incomes”— can usually expect to win more medals.

The sports that were most influenced by those factors were canoeing, diving, fencing, swimming and table tennis.  Equestrianism, gymnastics and wrestling were also highly influenced by the factors.

Adversely, sports that aren’t as expensive to train for like football, softball and triathlon, were the sports least affected by the factors.

“Progress and improvement in economic growth have historically often equaled progress in sport,” the authors wrote. “This trend — with a few economically significant countries winning a bulk of the Olympic medals on offer — has continued in recent times. For example, less than 10 countries participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics won more than half of the almost 1,000 gold, silver and bronze medals that were distributed.”

Additionally, the report proves that “home court advantage” is a very real thing. Countries that are hosting the Olympics tend to bring home more medals than they do when traveling elsewhere for the games, though not in every sport.

“In some cases, hosting the Olympics has meant increasing the number of medals by more than 50 percent with respect to what countries would have otherwise attained,” the report stated.

Historically, hosting countries can expect to win about 1.5 to 3 more medals per game in events like cycling, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, swimming and wrestling. Other sports like football, rhythmic gymnastics and water polo don’t find as much benefit from the so-called “home court advantage.”  

But when it comes to a financial win for host countries, the results have been mixed. The 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1976 Montreal Olympics both had significant financial losses. However, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics all turned a profit, according to the report.

The researchers note that it is too early to predict whether the London Olympics will be profitable, but the city’s infrastructure plans for the Games were finished on schedule and even below budget. Though, that very budget has been quite the investment at an estimated £8.5bn (about $13.3 billion).

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…