COSTAS Standings, Week One

by Andrew Mooney

As promised, here are the COSTAS standings for the first week of Olympic competition. To learn more about how COSTAS is calculated and what it intends to measure, read my original post here. Medal figures are current as of Saturday afternoon’s competition.

First, we have the medal standings as traditionally recorded:


Now here are those same standings, revisualized by COSTAS:


Like in 2008, China has opened up a giant lead over the rest of the field. Though they do not have a substantial advantage in gold medals, the Chinese have swept entire sports, like badminton, table tennis, and diving. The vast majority of the U.S.’s medal haul to this point has come in swimming (14 golds, eight silvers, and six bronzes), so our COSTAS total is discounted due to the large number of swimming events. The U.S. is actually far closer to third-place South Korea, which won big in archery and fencing, than to our red rivals.

An American comeback is certainly within the realm of possibility, however, given the upcoming opportunities the U.S. will have to follow China’s example and dominate in sports in which not many medals are available. The U.S. is heavily favored to take gold in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and women’s soccer, and have looked dangerous in both men’s and women’s water polo. Medals in any of these would be rewarded heavily by COSTAS. There are also many individual gymnastics events still to come, which promise even more American gold.

But the U.S. may need all that and more to catch China, whose medal score is already a time and a half greater than the Americans’. Though we’ve just nosed into the lead according to the official standings, there’s a long way to go to match the supremacy in multiple disciplines enjoyed by the Chinese.

This post can also be seen on here.

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1 Comment

  • Great work. This is the first medal count I have seen that seems to encapsulate the ‘important’ aspects of olympic participation.
    As a follow-up, any chance that you are working on a model based on individual athletes rather than countries? It would be very interesting to see how multi-medallists such as Phelps, Thorpe, etc stack up under the same evaluation!

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