PwC predicts the medal tally for Rio 2016

Olympic rings
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

8 August 2016

Brazil will benefit from a home field advantage but the US will still come top at Rio 2016, according to a report from PwC.

As the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro race ever nearer, economists at PwC have released their forecast for the final medal tally.

The study took economic size, previous performance at the Olympics, and the 'host nation' factor into account to make their predictions. PwC previously correctly listed the order of the top countries at London 2012, though Great Britain and Russia exceeded expectations and the US under-performed.

This year, the US is expected to improve and retain the top spot with a higher medal count. China should also perform consistently well and Great Britain is predicted to outdo both Germany and Australia.

Russia has been awarded third place in the projections. However, the medal count is likely to be affected by the number of athletes permitted to compete in the aftermath of recent controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs.

PwC: Modelling Olympic Games performance, 2016 medal tally

 CountryEstimated medal total Rio 2016Medal total London 2012
4Great Britain5265
9South Korea2728

John Hawksworth, PwC Chief Economist, said: “David can sometimes beat Goliath in the Olympic arena, although superpowers like the US and China continue to dominate the top of the medals table.

“Now it is no longer the host country, Great Britain may find it difficult to match its exceptional performance in London 2012 – though our model suggests it should remain as high as fourth in Rio with over 50 medals in total.”

Brazil, as the host nation, is expected to fare well in Rio despite recent economic issues.

In general, the number of medals won increases with the population and economic wealth of the country in question. Exceptions include Jamaica, which is projected to win 0.4 medals in Rio for every $bn of GDP.

Countries with strong sporting traditions and a high level level of government funding for Olympic sports also tend to do well, as demonstrated by the carefully targeted government support in Britain that focuses on the strongest medal contenders.

John added: “We can see this effect at work in China recently, where state support contributed greatly to their Olympic success in Beijing and London.

"Sport, it seems, is one area where a planned economy can succeed.”

PwC Head of Sport and Leisure, Julie Clark, said: “Competition remains strong, as other countries start to invest in elite sport as a way to raise their profile on the global stage, but since Great Britain has retained its very focused funding strategy, it should be possible to sustain the momentum of the last couple of Summer Olympics.”

Image credit: lazyllama /


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