If Eurovision ran the Olympics

August 5, 2012

The 2012 Olympics has seen Australian media struggling. While catering to our parochial need to focus on any Australian athletes, regardless of how they perform, they clearly were banking on a lot more gold stories on which to focus, leading to cring-inducing moments where they ask the second best swimmer or rowers on Earth “what went wrong?”

One of the reasons the Australian media struggles with trying to sound positive about Silver medals is the effect they have on the ‘all important medal count’ in which countries receive a rank based purely on the number of gold, with secondary rankings for silver and bronze only when needed to differentiate between countries with the same number of gold.

This is an outdated system in a world where kids can get ribbons for coming eighth in a race at school. It also significantly exaggerates the difference in performance between athletes and teams who come in first compared to those who come in second, or for that matter third or anywhere in the top eight.

Its time for it to change.

Perhaps the next most important competitive event, after the Olympics, and maybe world cups in various sports, is Eurovision. For those unfamiliar, various European and quasi-European nations send their most flamboyant performers to sing at least part of a power ballad on stage amid a dance and lighting extravaganza. Then, every participating country collects votes from their population of viewers, which can only be for other countries. These are tallied up and then ranked in the top ten, with ten through to third receiving 1 to 8 points, then 10 points for second place and 12 for first. It makes for nail biting finales.

So how would the medal tally look if we adopted a similar system, taking the top eight place getters for each event so far in the London 2012 Olympics?

Let’s weight Gold 12 points, Silver 10, Bronze 8 points, then 5 to 1 for places fourth through to eighth (or for reaching the quarter finals) and see what happens.

Well for a start, the top national place getters don’t change that much, with no change in the order for the US, China and Great Britain. But after that everything changes. Most importantly, is for Australia, with us rocketing up to 5th place, with New Zealand a respectable 13th.

Also, the list of high-performing countries grows to 79. The chart and table below show this in detail, with the chart also showing the weighted mix between the various final places for each country.

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze 4th to 8th Weighted Total
1 United States 288 130 120 159 697
2 China 264 140 96 90 590
3 Great Britain 156 70 64 109 399
4 Russia 36 130 72 93 331
5 Australia 12 120 48 116 296
6 Germany 60 90 48 89 287
7 Japan 24 90 96 55 265
8 France 96 50 56 59 261
9 Italy 60 50 24 68 202
10 Korea 108 30 40 24 202
11 Canada 12 30 48 43 133
12 Netherlands 36 10 32 45 123
13 New Zealand 36 0 32 36 104
14 Ukraine 24 0 32 37 93
15 Romania 0 40 24 22 86
16 Poland 24 10 8 40 82
17 Hungary 24 10 16 30 80
18 Belarus 12 20 16 28 76
19 Denmark 12 20 8 36 76
20 Cuba 24 20 16 15 75
21 Brazil 12 10 32 16 70
22 North Korea 48 0 8 10 66
23 Kazakhstan 60 0 0 6 66
24 South Africa 36 10 0 17 63
25 Czech Republic 12 20 8 20 60
26 Spain 0 20 8 32 60
27 Mexico 0 30 8 17 55
28 Sweden 0 20 0 27 47
29 Colombia 0 20 8 10 38
30 Slovakia 0 10 24 3 37
31 Ethiopia 12 0 8 15 35
32 Serbia 0 10 8 17 35
33 Slovenia 12 0 16 4 32
34 India 0 10 8 13 31
35 Indonesia 0 10 8 11 29
36 Croatia 12 10 0 6 28
37 Thailand 0 10 0 16 26
38 Jamaica 12 0 8 5 25
39 Moldova 0 0 24 0 24
40 Greece 0 0 16 7 23
41 Egypt 0 10 0 12 22
42 Kenya 0 10 8 4 22
43 Belgium 0 10 8 3 21
44 Norway 0 10 8 3 21
45 Venezuela 12 0 0 9 21
46 Lithuania 12 0 0 8 20
47 Taiwan 0 10 0 10 20
48 Mongolia 0 10 8 0 18
49 Turkey 0 0 0 17 17
50 Azerbaijan 0 0 8 8 16
51 Iran 0 0 8 7 15
52 Georgia 12 0 0 2 14
53 Uzbekistan 0 0 8 4 12
54 Guatemala 0 10 0 0 10
55 Tunisia 0 0 8 2 10
56 Hong Kong 0 0 8 1 9
57 Singapore 0 0 8 1 9
58 Argentina 0 0 0 8 8
59 Bulgaria 0 0 0 8 8
60 Qatar 0 0 8 0 8
61 Austria 0 0 0 7 7
62 Switzerland 0 0 0 7 7
63 Ireland 0 0 0 6 6
64 Portugal 0 0 0 6 6
65 Vietnam 0 0 0 6 6
66 Eritrea 0 0 0 5 5
67 Estonia 0 0 0 5 5
68 Kuwait 0 0 0 5 5
69 Malaysia 0 0 0 5 5
70 San Marino 0 0 0 5 5
71 Trinidad and Tobago 0 0 0 5 5
72 Bahrain 0 0 0 3 3
73 Turkmenistan 0 0 0 3 3
74 Ivory Coast 0 0 0 2 2
75 Israel 0 0 0 2 2
76 Nigeria 0 0 0 2 2
77 Bahamas 0 0 0 1 1
78 Fiji 0 0 0 1 1
79 Finland 0 0 0 1 1
Table showing weighted points for top 8 places for each country

Chart showing weighted points for top 8 places for each country so far for the London Olympics

I would like to advocate the adoption of this system, perhaps with a little tweaking of the weighting if necessary. It is a much more accurate reflection of the performance of athletes from each country. It recognises the part luck plays, as much as training and focus, between first, second and third, or even fourth and eighth places. It removes some of the insane pressure media, and indeed the nations behind them, place on athletes as though they owe us all gold.

Copyright: John Elliott 2012

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