Modelling Olympic Performance: PWC Paper 2012

I have been following Olympic Medal Predictions and Projections for London 2012.
Last week PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) published its Olympic Medals Paper, Modelling Olympic Performance Economic briefing paper.
In the Executive Summary the report notes that there are four economic and political factors that were statistically significant in explaining the number of medals won by each country at previous Olympic Games: population; average income levels; whether the country was previously part of the former Soviet/communist bloc (including Cuba and China); and whether the country is the host nation.
Later in the report the authors suggest that “It is not surprising that the model cannot explain all the variation in medal shares across countries as this will also be influenced by individual athletic performances, as well as by policy-related factors”.
These factors include:

  • the relative level of state and corporate funding of Olympic athletes in each country
  • the relative effectiveness of this funding
  • the relative importance given to athletics and other Olympic sports where significant numbers of medals are at stake

The model used by PwC estimates the following top 20 medal countries:

In an Annex to their paper, the authors provide technical details of the regression models they developed. Data for these models included:

101 medal-winning countries in 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, plus IMF data on population and GDP per capita at PPP exchange rates. For the London projections in Table 1 above, the 2008 Beijing Olympics results were factored into this model together with the latest IMF GDP and population estimates for 2011.

Dan Johnson published his predictions for London in March this year. His predictions were:

I have posted here the June predictions from the Herald Sun and USA Today. Both these newspapers use Infostrada data on athletic performance to inform their predictions.
It will be interesting to compare the relative merits of these data to the PwC and Dan Johnson approaches … particularly in the case of PwC who looked at their model’s fit (with the benefit of hindsight) in relation to performances in Beijing 2008:




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