It doesn’t take much examination of the statistics to be able to confirm what was already fairly obvious to sports fans – the home team wins more often. This is particularly true of the Olympic Games. With one exception (the USA at Atlanta 1996) the host nation has always improved on its medal tally of four years earlier. That host country’s medal tally four years later has fallen on each occasion.
Since 1948 the USSR, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Finland, the USA, China and Australia all enjoyed their biggest medal hauls on home turf. UK Sport, which distributes money to sports in the United Kingdom, has made a record British medal count its stated target and many believe it will reach that target.
There are several reasons proposed by researchers as to what exactly this ‘home advantage’ effect is. Ross Tucker of the online publication The Science of Sport analyses some data in the video presentation below and explains that essentially there are three factors: not having to travel, familiarity with sports venues and the crowd’s influence on both competitors and referees.
In the first case, the host-country competitors do not need to go too far to compete, they are already there. While some of their rivals may suffer from jet lag or travel fatigue, they do not.
Familiarity helps as if an athlete knows the track, pool, river or stadium, the climate, the crowd and feels ‘at home’ the comfort factor aids the athlete’s performance.
The crowd can influence both the athletes’ and referees’ performance. If tens of thousands of people are cheering you on, that fact might drive the body that 0.5% further. And sometimes 0.5% is the difference between winning or losing, or finishing 3rd or 4th. On the refereeing side, there is also evidence, as Ross Tucker provides in his presentation, that referees are swayed, even if only slightly, by the noise a partisan crowd makes. In sports such as gymnastics, football or boxing – where a referee’s judgement is crucial – this could be worth a few out of the hundreds medals on offer at the London Games. It was certainly the case in the boxing in Seoul in 1988.
Why are Australians so good at sport?
Why does India perform so poorly at the Olympics?
What does it take to win an Olympic medal?
Planned economies obsessed by the need to succeed
While home advantage helps in most competitions, it does perhaps slightly more so in the Olympics simply because it is The Olympic Games, an opportunity that countries only usually experience once in a generation if they are lucky to host them at all. When a country’s government hosts the Olympics it wants to do well, and to do well it is prepared to free up more money to sports. That is certainly the case with the UK and London 2012. Funding has been increased for boxing, canoeing, gymnastics, rowing and taekwondo – all multiple-event and medal-rich disciplines – and field hockey, in which Britain also has hopes of medals.
Britain already enjoyed its most successful Games ever four years ago in Beijing, where it won 47 medals including 19 Golds and most of the statistic-based predictions point to an increase on that medal total.
There is also a positive lasting effect of playing host. The improved infrastructure continues to help sporting performance after the Games have finished and many of the medal-winning athletes return to defend their titles. Which would suggest that China, although it should win fewer medals in London, is set to do well once more.
Number of medals per country between 1948 and 2008: (hosting countries only)
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Sweden becomes first EU country to recognise the Palestinian State | euronews, world news
- 3Italy swamped by flash floods | euronews, world news
- 4Back to School for Romania’s new First Lady | euronews, world news
- 5What will you ask US Senator John McCain? | euronews, world news
- 6Turkish president Erdogan unveils his new palace of a thousand rooms | euronews, world news
- 7India PM Modi appoints Yoga minister | euronews, world news
- 8[Live] Rosetta’s Philae lands on comet 67P and enters the history books | euronews, world news
- 9Vladimir Putin most powerful man in the world – Forbes | euronews, world news
- 10European e-revolution people rise up | euronews, world news
- 11International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 12Where is the best place in Europe for women? | euronews, world news
- 13Nadia Comaneci: gymnast of perfection and defector | euronews, the global conversation
- 14Putin plans to leave G20 talks early amid Ukraine pressure | euronews, world news
- 15Transcript of hanged Iranian woman’s final message released | euronews, world news
- 16US says ISIL makes $1 million-a-day selling oil – even to enemies | euronews, world news
- 17Syria: Islamic extremists pledge to press ahead with battle for Kobani | euronews, world news
- 18International news | euronews, latest international news
- 19Anti-immigration protests in Rome | euronews, world news
- 20Portugal: Ex-PM José Socrates held in corruption probe | euronews, world news
Wires > Sport
- 17:48 CET Palace fight back to win as Liverpool collapse again
- 16:04 CET Low-key Emirates clash shows how far mighty have fallen
- 15:12 CET Ice man Stenson overcomes nerves to retain Dubai title
- 14:10 CET Great year but All Blacks must keep improving – Hansen
- 14:05 CET Irish coach Schmidt has appendix removed after game
- 12:26 CET Gasquet to face Federer in Davis Cup singles
- 11:45 CET Moyes upbeat after Sociedad debut despite tepid draw
- 11:42 CET Ronaldo well on the way to smashing La Liga record