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PwC Olympics medal model expects GB home advantage

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London: Home advantage to Britain could play a part in how the Olympic medals are shared in August; but the superpowers of the US, China and Russia are again set to battle it out at the top of the Olympic Games medals table in London, according to a new analysis by economists at PwC.

  • British team should benefit from 'home town' effect: projected to win 54 medals
  • Economic size matters in medal tally — but David can still beat Goliath
  • US and China to renew their top-of-the-table tussle in 2012

This is the fourth time that PwC has published an analysis of how medal performance at the Olympic Games can be linked to such factors as past Olympic performance, economics and state support for sport.

The PwC model suggests that the British team could win 54 medals this time around, beating an already exceptionally good performance of 47 medals in Beijing, due to home advantage, which has proved significant in all other recent Olympics except Atlanta in 1996.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said, "Host nations generally 'punch above their weight' at the Olympics, which bodes well for the British team in London. This would still leave Britain in fourth place in the total medals table but we will be only too pleased if the British team can beat our model projection in London this summer!"

The analysis also says that home country advantage should on average boost medal share by around two percentage points, which might translate to around an extra 19 medals for Britain in 2012. However this needs to be tempered by the remarkable performance for the British team in Beijing that may have seen preparations for London 2012 already starting to bear fruit in areas such as cycling, rowing and sailing.

PwC model estimates — top 5 medal winners

CountryEstimated medals at London 2012Actual medals at Beijing 2008Difference
1. US113110+3
2. China87100-13

Hawksworth added, "The overall model projection suggests a solid but more modest increase in Britain's medal tally in London. In general, the number of medals won increases with the population and economic wealth of the country, but less than proportionately. David can sometimes beat Goliath in the Olympic arena, although superpowers like the US, China and Russia continue to dominate the top of the medals table."

Some further findings to be drawn from the PwC model include:

  • Now it is no longer the host country, China may find it more difficult to stay ahead of the US (as it did in Beijing on gold medals, although not total medals won).
  • Russia is projected by the model to continue to perform strongly relative to the size of its economy in third place (68 medals), but it does continue to drift down the table relative to the heights of its performance in the old USSR era.
  • The model still suggests that India is a significant underperformer relative to its population and GDP, with a model target of around 5-6 medals for London after allowing for past performance. The most plausible explanation is that, with the exception of hockey, Indian sport tends to focus on events that are not included in the Olympics, notably cricket.
  • The model estimates suggest that larger Western European countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands might be expected to broadly match their Beijing 2008 performances — though they will no doubt hope to do better.
  • Countries where the model targets for London are below those for Beijing include Australia (still in gentle decline from the heights of Sydney in 2000) and some former Soviet bloc countries where the legacy advantages of strong state support from the pre-1991 era may be gradually fading, such as Ukraine and Belarus.As well as Great Britain, countries that the model suggests have the potential to do better than in Beijing include: Japan, Romania and Turkey

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