The New Horizon

A new world explored with a rational view

Chinese Olympic Medals soaring – Who’s losing out?

with 2 comments

Chinese are roaring in Olympics. China won only 5 golds in 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2008, they got 51 golds. I understand there are some new events added on to the Olympics each year, but that is not the sole reason why Chinese are getting more and more medals in the Olympics. So, where from the Chinese medals are coming from? I went on to compare the medals tally in 1988 and 2008 to get an answer to that.

Change in number of medals in major sports nations, 1988-2008

Change in number of medals in major sports nations, 1988-2008

The data I dug out clearly indicates that China is gaining medals at the expense of Germany. Soviets are going strong, even after the tragic breakup in 1991.  Great Britain and France did well too. So are the other Asians. I wanted to throw some more light into the same by calculating percentage improvement in terms of medals. Just to remind, Cuba and Ethiopia didn’t participate in 1988 Olympics and I replaced Ethiopian results with that of 1992 medals in order to maintain consistency.

Now, if I move on to regional differences, the picture becomes clearer.

Change in Medals for Major Regions, 1988-2008

Change in Medals for Major Regions, 1988-2008

Now one can notice the changes. Apart from Germany and Eastern Europe, all other regions are gaining more medals. In short, German and East European medals are being cannibalized by the Chinese. To get more details, we need to probably dig a bit deeper into it, look for sports-by-sports basis. A caution on this figure is on the Caribbean figures since Cuba was absent in 1988 Olympics. I will enter into the per-country loser statistics now.

I see basically there are three big losers and one of them is not being tracked by the statistics above.

Cuba Medals 1988-2008

Cuba Medals 1988-2008

East Europe (Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria) Medals 1988-2008

East Europe (Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria) Medals 1988-2008

Germany Medals 1988-2008

Germany Medals 1988-2008

These are the three biggest contributors to the “lost Gold” recovered in China. I will hope to do some per-sports basis comparison also, keep an eye open for that. It will be interesting as well.

To sum up, this somehow reflects change in “social order” of sports. In Olympic sports, China has taken the Medals away from the former Communist states, especially East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Cuba. Whether their loss directly translated to Chinese gain, is a matter of per-sports basis analysis. But from overall figures, it seems fall of communism in East Europe changed the geography of Olympics and moved the epicenter closer to Asia and away from Europe.


Written by Diganta

July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Posted in China

Tagged with , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. It would be interesting to see in which sports (former East) Germany has been replaced by China. Swimming would be a good guess. It would be interesting to compare 1988/1992 swimming results against 2008/12 results.


    August 2, 2012 at 6:46 am

    • Absolutely agree, I wrote it also, that we need sports level details. But I am sure that East Germany + East Europe lost Olympic medals in Gymnastics which now goes to China. There are at least 4-5 Golds like that. But otherwise, most of other medals probably went to West Europe as East athletes and Coaches migrated to West after decline in communism. I’ll add those details after I collect all sports level details.


      August 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

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