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GLOBAL ISSUES IN LANGUAGE
EDUCATION NEWSLETTER
October 2004 - Issue No. #55 (p.11)

THE OLYMPIC GAMES: WHICH COUNTRY WON THE MOST MEDALS?

The Athens Olympics are over and, at the end, the mass media counted up to see which countries "won the most medals". But, is a simple medal count the best way to find the "winners"? Here's what one NGO had to say:

Imagine a group of Olympic athletes lining up for the 100 metre final - but wait! This isn't fair. Some of the athletes have further to run. Some have a head start. Some have to carry 20-kilogram backpacks of dead weight. The swimmer in lane three of the 200 metre butterfly comes from the wealthiest country in the world. The swimmer in lane four comes from a country where people still starve to death, where it's hard enough to find a glass of clean water, let alone a swimming pool. Shouldn't the Olympics, this celebration of global unity, take account of the fact that some athletes are more equal than others? How can we ensure a "level playing field" where all athletes get a fair and equal chance?

To provide a fairer comparison, we present here three alternative ways of measuring "who won" at the Olympics:

  1. by simple medal count (below left): based on the total number of medals won by each country
  2. by population (below middle): based on "medals per person" calculated for each country's population
  3. by national wealth (below right): based on Gross National Product, a measure of a country's prosperity

Why not try this topic as a discussion or writing theme for your next language class? For more info on different ways to calculate Olympic medal winners, access: http://buggery.org/2004/08/21/a-better-tally/#more-411

THE OLYMPIC GAMES: WHICH COUNTRY WON THE MOST MEDALS?

NUMBER OF MEDALS
POPULATION
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT

Gold - Silver - Bronze = Total


1. USA 35 39 29103
2. Russia 27 27 38 92
3. China 32 17 14 63
4. Australia 17 16 16 49
5. Germany 14 16 18 48
6. Japan 16 9 12 37
7. France 11 9 13 33
8. Italy 10 11 11 32
9. Korea 9 12 9 30
10. Britain 9 9 12 30

Source: Athens 2004 Olympic Site
http://www.athens2004.com/en/

Pop (millions) - Medals per million



1. Bahamas 0.2 10
2. Australia 19.9 2.46
3. Cuba 11.3 2.39
4. Estonia 1.3 2.3
5. Slovenia 2.0 2
6. Jamaica 2.7 1.85
7. Latvia 2.3 1.74
8. Hungary 10.0 1.7
9. Bulgaria 7.5 1.6
10. Greece 10.6 1.5
...
42. Japan 127 0.3

Source: BUGGERY.ORG
http://www.buggery.org/rum.php?
(link no longer active)

Gold - Silver - Bronze = Total


1. Cuba 9 7 11 1.17
2. Jamaica 2 1 2 2.04
3. Bahamas 1 0 1 2.55
4. Georgia 2 2 0 3.04
5. Eritrea 0 0 1 3.30
6. Belarus 2 6 7 4.13
7. N Korea 0 4 1 4.57
8. Kenya 1 4 2 4.73
9. Bulgaria 2 1 9 4.76
10. Mongolia 0 0 1 4.88
...
64. Japan 16 9 12 96.41

Source: BUGGERY.ORG
http://www.buggery.org/rum.php?
(link no longer active)

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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
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