Thursday, October 14, 2010

Correlating Population and GDP With CWG 2010 Medals

Is there a correlation between a nation's economic performance and its success at international sports competitions? Has India's economic resurgence contributed to its achieving remarkable second place status on the medals table at the Commonwealth Games 2010 that just concluded in New Delhi?

Economics professor Daniel Johnson and his student Ms. Ayfer Ali have developed a model to predict a country's Olympic performance using per-capita income (the economic output per person), the nation's population, its political structure, its climate and the host nation advantage. The Johnson-Ali model was described in a paper, “A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympics,” that was written in 1999 with Ayfer Ali, while Johnson was on sabbatical at Harvard University and Ali was a student. It was published in Social Science Quarterly in December 2004."It's just pure economics," Johnson insists. "I know nothing about the athletes. And even if I did, I didn't include it."

"The home-field advantage is not trivial. That's why we structure playoffs the way we do," says Johnson.

Over the past five Olympics since 2000, Johnson-Ali model has demonstrated 94% accuracy between predicted and actual national medal counts. For gold medal wins, the correlation is 87%. For the 2008 Beijing Games, Johnson predicted the U.S. team would win 103 medals in total, 33 of them gold. The Americans ended up winning 110 medals, 36 being gold. With its host nation advantage, China did better than Johnson's forecast. Johnson predicted Chinese athletes would win 89 medals; they took 100. He expected China to earn 44 gold medals by the time of the closing ceremonies at the Bird's Nest in Beijing. The Chinese collected a list-leading 51 golds, besting the model's expectations.

The Johnson-Ali model has not done well for nations other than the top 10. For example, Pakistan, which Johnson suggested would win seven medals, including three golds, won no medals at all at Athens Olympics. In fact, Pakistan has won three golds,three silvers and four bronze medals, a total of 10 medals in the entire history of its participation in Olympics movement since 1948. Eight out of the ten medals were won by Pakistan's field hockey team. The last Olympic medal Pakistan won was a bronze in 1992. India has won nine golds,four silvers and seven bronze medals, a total of 20 medals in its entire Olympics history which began in 1927 while Sri Lanka has won two medals in its history at the Olympics, one silver and one bronze. At Beijing in 2008, India won three medals, including one gold and two bronzes, and Afghanistan won its first-ever Olympic medal, a bronze. Bangladesh is the most populous country in the world never to have won an Olympic medal. Nepal won a bronze medal in Taekwondo at Seoul in 1988, but it was won in an exhibition match not counted among official medals.

Eighty of 205 Olympic committees, representing about 40 percent of the world's nations, have never won an Olympic medal.

Now let's see if Johnson-Ali model has any relevance to the results of Delhi CWG 2010. Representing the host nation, Indian athletes have performed very well, winning second spot on the medals table with 101 medals, including 38 golds, beating England to win the second place with just one more gold medal than England's 37 golds.

As expected, Australians top the medals table with 177 medals, including 74 golds, although down significantly from 221 medals they won in 2006, according to the BBC.

Indians double their medal count to 101 this year from 50 medals in 2006.

England also make gains, winning 142 medals this year, up from 110 in 2006.

Pakistan ranks 17th, on a list of 37 medal winning nations. Pakistan's medal count is flat at 5 from 2006, including 2 golds.

In terms of population per medal, Nauru (2 medals) tops the list with one medal per 5000 people.

India and Pakistan are both near the bottom with one medal per 11 million and 33 million citizens respectively.

Bangladesh is at the very bottom with its one bronze medal for its entire population of 162 million people.

In terms of GDP, Nauru tops with 1 medal per $119 million.

India (101 medals) and Pakistan (5 medals) are near the bottom with $12 billion and $33 billion respectively.

Bangladesh is last with just one bronze for its entire GDP of $94 billion.

Indians deserve to be congratulated for leveraging their rapid economic growth in recent years to achieve remarkable success at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. However, in terms of India's GDP and the size of its population, the Indians still have a long way to go to match the performance of China and OECD member nations at major international sports competitions like the Olympics.

Many of India's best athletes at CWG 2010 are women, including badminton star Saina Nehwal, who picked up the badminton singles gold, putting India in second place ahead of England on the medals table. Many of India's medal-winning women are from the northern state of Haryana, which has some of the worst rates of female foeticide in the country. Let us hope that these girls drive positive social change in this benighted region where the politicians have failed.

With rising enthusiasm for competitive sports and its world-class training facilities built for Delhi Commonwealth Games, I believe India has taken a giant step forward to become a sports powerhouse ready to compete and win in major international sporting events in future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India, Pakistan and Johnson-Ali Model

BBC's Commonwealth Games 2010 Table

India Ranks Below China, Pakistan in Global Hunger Index

Low Status of Indian Women

India's Commonwealth Games Mess

Disaster Dampens Spirits on Pakistan's 63rd Independence Day

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics


Anonymous said...

For once Riaz I agree with you :)

There was an excellent suggestion by a sri lankan minister that India should share its facilities with other SAARC nations so that collectively South Asians can do better at the olympics in 2012.

There are precedents for this Russia shares its facilities with former soviet states,and South and North Korea sent a joint team to the olympics once.

Our facilities for shooting, hockey,badminton and boxing are world class with more money almost sure to be pumped in other sports.

I for one whole heartedly welcome this suggestion.We should not be a one sport sub continent.

Anonymous said...

Lets not get very excited yes as an Indian I am very very happy at our performance BUT let us not forget that CWG is an arena where the world's top 3 sporting powers China,USA,Russia do not participate.

It is a great confidence booster and evidence that the massive funds made available to sports in the past five years has not been wasted.However we need to try double hard if we are to realistically win 10-15 medals at London.

At beijing 2008 we won only 3 with 5-6 near misses.

Anonymous said...


Why should we share our facilities????

Beta it has taken back breaking work to get these stadiums and training facilities ready.

REMEMBER we won ONLY 3 medals at the 2008 olympics we need all the facilities we have for our own needs paid for BY INDIAN TAXPAYERS

Pakistan should train in China I'm sure they have much better facilities than we do and Pakistanis like them a lot more anyway.

Anonymous said...


The SL minister can suggest what he wants the examples of post USSR etc is not relevant.

As Riaz amply points out we are a poor country which can ill afford such charity.

Good effort at CWG 2010 but no room for complacency.

Just look at hockey we smashed pakistan,beat england(european champions) to reach the finals.

Then the hockey players got complacent and were giving interviews to TV journos at 10 pm..

The result?
Australia CLOBBERED us in the finals 8-0 today!!!! its only our shuttlers saina nehwal and jwala gutta that barely saved the day with 2 golds

2012 olympics is gonna be an order of magnitude more difficult.Especially with China sending cartoonishly large delegations to the olympics.

Anonymous said...

With rising enthusiasm for competitive sports and its world-class training facilities built for Delhi Commonwealth Games, I believe India has taken a giant step forward to become a sports powerhouse ready to compete and win in major international sporting events in future.

Riaz you praising India????

But seriously there's many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Order of difficulty wise it is

Olympics>European Championship>Pan american games>Asian games>CWG

While CWG is good the bigger test will be the Asian games that begins this month in China.

The problem is we win most medals in badminton,boxing,wrestling and shooting.

Chinese dominate gymnastics,swimming,table tennis

China has factory scale production of badminton and shooting champions.So though saina N beat World #2 a chinese national in China she lost to world #15.

Point being we have all told 5 medal hopefuls vs China's 20 (in baminton)the fact is at that rarified layer of performance winning a medal is a matter of whether its your day and a nation's probability of winning medals in most disciplines is a function of how many competitors it sends.

China has no Michael Phelps but they send 3 times as many competitors to the olympics than the US which explains their success.

It will take India at least 15 years of hard work to come in top 10 of the medals tally.

Anonymous said...

Riaz I think afghanistan won a bronze at the olympics in 2008.

Anonymous said...

and in cricket India reaffirmed its # 1 position by crushing Aus 2-0 in the 2 test series, the first time Aus lost all matches of a series in nearly 30 yrs.
India is on a roll. We Pakistanis can better letter learn from them on how not to be idiotically religious fanatic and work to live in 21st century and not in 689AD.

Anonymous said...

I can fully understand the pride of my in-laws country when they see it on the march. Here is another feel good article about India.

Truth really hits us hard when we realize how much ground we lost to India in the last 15 years.

bikramshergill said...

Dcruncher you are such a faggot. I am so annoyed by your anti Islam rhetoric. I am a non muslim Indian and I am not pretending being one like you pretend that you are a Pakistani. You seriously need to open up and study Islam. Islam and for that matter no religion is an obstacle in the path of economic and scientific development. Stop being an ignorant jingoistic jackass. You are a disgrace to all Indians.

Anonymous said...


Chuck he cause buddy we know your an Indian pretending to be a pakistani.

It only makes India look cheap.

I'm a very proud Indian btw.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from an interesting commentary by Soutik Biswas of BBC:

Incidentally, many of India's sterling performances came from women, including badminton star Saina Nehwal, who picked up the badminton singles gold. Many of India's medal-winning women athletes came from the northern state of Haryana, which has some of the worst rates of female foeticide in the country. These girls can drive change in this benighted region better than the politicians.

That was not all. The once glorious field hockey team - undefeated in the Olympic Games between 1928 and 1956, winning six gold medals in succession - which has been on a comeback of sorts made it to the finals before being thrashed by Australia. (The team had returned empty handed from the three Commonwealth Games ever since hockey was introduced in 1998)

One hopes that India's apathetic sports officials will build on the success of its athletes and begin treating them better with more incentives, increased funding and improved infrastructure. The legacy of the Delhi games will depend on this alone. The expensive stadia and other state-of-the-art infrastructure could easily turn out to be white elephants, decaying away in neglect, if they are not used to showcase and train athletes regularly. Half of India's one billion population is under the age of 25. Can there be any other country in the world with such untapped sporting potential?

It is tempting to suggest that India's success at the games have happened despite the system - even after the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, sports has remained mired in politics, nepotism, provincialism and corruption. Governments don't appear to be interested in nurturing sports seriously by tapping talent at the grassroots and setting up academies. Will the Delhi games help in ushering in a new sports culture in India?

There's still a lot of catching up to do, as sports writer Suresh Menon points out. One sobering example: the 100m track record in India is 10.3 seconds, achieved in 2005. Canadian Percy Williams clocked that record in 1930. So India trails by 75 years in that event. Or take China. Since 1984, India has won three Olympic medals. China has won 420. India's athletes have shown a lot of promise at Delhi, but it's still a long way to the top. Will the authorities now wake up - and do their job?

Vicks said...

"Will the authorities now wake up - and do their job?"...Knowing our beloved Indian politicians and bureaucrats, I'm betting on their not waking up and not doing their jobs

Anonymous said...

Riaz the difference with India and Pakistan is this when in a crisis India doesn't screw up,be it the early 90s when the ussr collapsed and we had to auction gold for imf loans,kargil war,you name it.

Pakistan almost always buckles under strain be it these days,or the kargil war or 1971 etc etc

I think the real difference is the fact that at the top India is run by brahmins who have an average IQ of 115-125 as per various international studies.

Pakistan on the other hand at the top is run by over excited Punjabis who have an average IQ of 79.

The difference is most acute in the most cerebral of state organs like the foreign service where kautilya's decendants routinely fly rings around their Pakistani counterparts.

Those are the facts.

-Proud Aryan Brahmin

Riaz Haq said...

Proud Aryan Brahmin: "I think the real difference is the fact that at the top India is run by brahmins who have an average IQ of 115-125 as per various international studies. Pakistan on the other hand at the top is run by over excited Punjabis who have an average IQ of 79."

Richard Flynn is a recognized expert in IQ measurements and your assertions are contradicted by Flynn's findings.

Flynn has reported that animal proteins given to children raise the IQs significantly based on experiments done in Guatemala.

Since Brahmins do not eat meat, and 50% of Indians suffer from iodine deficiency, one would expect their IQ to be lower than Pakistanis.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, a few points:

1. Flynn effect does NOT close the IQ gap between populations.

2. In contests that require super-high IQs (160+) like the International Math Olympiad or International Physics Olympiad, East Asian countries dominate.

3. The South Asian-White gap doesn't close for *REPRESENTATIVE* samples from those populations even in countries where the South Asian populations are essentially disease free/properly nourished, like in South Africa (google: rushton + south asians + south africa + iq).

4. The Raven's matrices which are culturally neutral IQ tests show that Chinese farmers test better than the South Asian middle class.

5. Brahmins are certainly smarter *on average* than other South Asians as measured by IQ tests. The 2 or 3 million Tamil Brahmins who comprise .02% of India's population have themselves won 3 Nobels (Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Venki Ramakrishnan, CV Raman), 1 Abel Prize (Srinivasa Varadhan), produced the greatest Mathematical autodidact in a century (Ramanujan), the current world chess champion (Viswanathan Anand), and are almost definitely going to bring South Asians their first Fields Medal (Akshay Venkatesh/Kannan Soundararajan), youngest person (Vinodhini Vasudevan) to ever get a perfect SAT score at age 12 (also the only one to do so out of 600,000 gifted seventh- and eighth-graders the program has tracked through two decades). Coincidence? Unlikely! Privilege? Well, they aren't the only privileged South Asian group.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's special Olympic athletes at Athens have brought home more medals (56 medals including 17 golds, 25 silvers and 14 bronzes) than any Pakistani regular athletes squads at any international event. Here's Express Tribune story:

The Pakistan squad comes bearing 56 medals as they return to the country today after a successful run at the recently-concluded Special Olympics Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece.

Pakistan bagged 17 gold medals, 25 silver and 14 bronze medals while competing in a week-long event that featured 7,500 athletes from 180 countries around the world.

The 82-member contingent participated in eight sports including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bocce, cycling, football and table tennis.

According to the delegation head Ronak Lakhani, while it was important that the country managed to secure 56 medals, however, the Special Olympics of Pakistan’s aim was to encourage all athletes and ensure that every member of the squad was treated like a winner.

During the competitive week at the Games, some athletes made a bigger mark than others. Adeel Ameer, an 18-year-old came out victorious in the 100-metre run, high-jump and 4×100 metre events to become the most successful athlete in the squad, grabbing the top positions in the three events that he participated in.

Meanwhile, 11-year old Bakhtawar Gul secured two gold medals in the 100-metre run and long jump-events and a silver medal in the 4×100-metre relay race.

The Games, however, were not free of setbacks. Rahimullah Baig had to face a disqualification in the 800-metre run, but the 17-year-old spirited athlete never gave up hope and managed to win a silver medal in the 1500-metre run and bagged a gold medal in the 4×100-metre relay race with Ameer, Tahir Siddique and Sakhawat Ali, who also won silver medals in shot-put and the 200-metre individual race.

“Athletics team won the most medals for Pakistan,” coach Javad Arshad told The Express Tribune. “All my athletes have improved because of the strong domestic structure that we have in place to train them.

“We had been preparing these athletes for the last two years in their cities, while we began the camp for the Olympic Games four months prior to the event. It has paid off well.”

Meanwhile, Amir Munawar emerged as the only swimmer to win two silver medals at the 25-metre breaststroke and 25-metre freestyle events, whereas cyclist Sana Javed bagged a gold medal in the five-kilometre race and silver in 1000-metre event. Billawal Aslam secured one gold and two bronze medals despite a prior shoulder injury.

In the team sports, Pakistan men and women basketball teams won silver medals, while Suhail Khan and Rabia Saeed won badminton singles titles. Similarly, Mehwish Iftikhar and Arsalan Ahmed won table tennis singles events in their respective categories.

Riaz Haq said...

Three out of India's Commonwealth gold 4x400 women's relay team have been suspended, according to the BBC:

India has dismissed its Ukrainian track and field coach after eight athletes were suspended in the past week for failing dope tests.

Yuri Ogorodonik trained six of the eight athletes who tested positive.

"We are removing Ogorodonik immediately and are also considering removing other foreign coaches," Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters.

Mr Ogorodonik had been with the Indian team for more than two years. He has so far not commented on his sacking.

On Monday two female athletes tested positive for banned substances and were suspended. Six other athletes - five women and one man - were suspended after failing doping tests last week.
'Very disturbing'

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been ordered to investigate how the banned substances reached a training camp in the northern city of Patiala.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Ajay Maken

Stricter vigils would be maintained on the coaches and chemists near the training camps. We can't be lenient on anyone”

End Quote Ajay Maken Indian sports minister

"The athletes have disgraced the whole nation and it's very disturbing for us," Mr Maken said.

"Athletes will get their punishment in the form of suspensions, bans and losing their medals... but we can't let the coaches and any official involved in this episode get away scot-free."

The ministry took action after eight athletes failed drugs tests within the space of seven days, three of them from India's 2010 Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medal-winning women's 4x400m relay team.

Officials say that the athletes suspended on Monday - Ashwini Akkunji and Priyanka Panwar - tested positive for anabolic steroids.

Ms Akkunji was part of the women's 4x400m relay quartet in the Commonwealth Games.

"We have provisionally suspended them. They will now be called for 'B' sample tests and then the necessary procedure will be followed," Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Director ML Dogra said.

The two women have not so far commented on the allegations made against them.

The six athletes suspended on Friday included two other members of the 4X400m Commonwealth Games relay team, Sini Jose and Mandeep Kaur.

Ms Kaur argued that food supplements might have caused her to test positive - she argued that she would be "a mad person" if she took steroids to enhance performance.

Riaz Haq said...

Media report says cell phone service company Zong in a deal with Manchester United to train Pakistan's young footballers:

KARACHI: Some 32 young footballers between the ages of 10 and 18 from all over Pakistan can look forward to training by Manchester United players and coaches, including Sir Alex Ferguson, thanks to an arrangement between the world-famous professional football club and a mobile telecom company here.

“Seeing the popularity of football among youngsters in Pakistan, Zong has entered into a three-year contract with Manchester United. It is hoped that this one of a kind partnership will lead to prosperity, growth and triumph for the sport here,” said the company’s Director Advertising and Promotions Rizwan Akhter at a press conference called to announce the union at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

Unveiling the benefits of the contract, Rizwan Akhter said: “From next year, we will hold country-wide trials to pick 32 best footballers in the 10 to 18 age group for training by the club’s players and coaches.”

The partnership gives Pakistan rights to exclusive news and footage of the English clubs activities in order to bring the 150,000 Manchester United fans here closer to the club and their favourite players.

“The move will go a long way in promoting football in Pakistan and inspiring more young players to take up the sport here,” explained the company’s representative.

“It will also allow us here to look more closely at the club’s way of working and their formats in order to take out and follow the positive things from there to help improve the infrastructure here,” he added.

“Though we are focusing on the grassroots level for now, it is hoped that along with the inspiration gained from learning more about the famous English club with such an interesting history will come improvement in football grounds and academies here,” pointed out the gentleman.

Meanwhile, to a question about the possibility of Manchester United players or coaches visiting Pakistan, the organisers said that the present security situation prevents that from happening until things improved here.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Sending Four Swimmers, 2 girls and 2 boys, to 2015 World Swimmming Championships … via SwimSwam​

The Pakistan Swimming Federation has announced a four-member roster — two women and two men — to represent Pakistan at the upcoming 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
All of the swimmers on the team have international swimming experience. Lianna Swan has represented Pakistan at several international meets, including Barcelona in 2013, and at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she set the national record in the 100 freestyle and 50 breast.
Anum Bandey, who trains in London, swam for Pakistan as a 15 year-old at the 2012 London Olympic games as just the third woman ever to swim for Pakistan in the Olympics. Although she placed last in the 400 IM in the preliminary heats, she did set a new national record with that swim, a time of 5:34.64.
Teenager Mohammad Saad Amin competed at last fall’s Asian Games. He’s currently the national leader in the 50/100 free and 50 fly. He’ll be joined by fellow teenager Haris Bandey, who competed in sprint events at the Commonwealth Games last year in Glasgow, but who has the fastest Pakistani times this year in the 200 IM and 400 IM.
According to the Pakistan Swimming Federation press release, swimmer were selected on the basis of their performance at Pakistan’s National Championship, which was held this April.