The medals earned by the Olympic champions in London show more than the athletes’ excellence. They also reflect the economic contexts of whole countries, or blocks.
In the sweepstakes of sport, the United States’ heroes won the most medals, followed by China’s and the British. Forecasts proved true for the host country; the United Kingdom enjoyed a home advantage.
American bank Goldman Sachs had predicted it quite precisely in a report on the eve of the contest. Its experts said that the Olympic Games symbolised the values of global integration, international competition and stamina, discipline and teamwork.
The 27-member European Union comes off looking well by this measure, with 306 medals, more of them gold than any other continent. Asian countries won 223 medals, 76 of them gold – to Europe’s 92. Of all the Asian medals, China and South Korea account for almost half.
The Beijing government more than any other places great stress on Olympic prowess to project national pride and its economic power around the world. The Chinese dig deep into their public treasury to ensure their titans of sport bring home gold.
The Goldman Sachs people only said that “Olympic performance and economic outcomes might be linked”. In fact, among the most-medalled in the top 10 we find the G7 industrialised nations the US, the UK, Germany, France and Italy. Russia and China are from the BRIC block achieving newly advanced economic development.
Analysts see the correlation of GDP and athletes’ performance as obvious, with infrastructure and leisure culture stimulating high-level training and sponsorship resources.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken pains to extol the Olympic boost potential for his country’s economy, to help raise consumer confidence and encourage productive activity.
According to Downing Street, the Games will contribute an added 0.2 percent to growth in the UK over each of the next four years.