Posts Tagged ‘olympics’

Worst Olympic nations

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dalai Lama and BA Baracas

It might be considered smug, now that Britain has won enough gold medals at Beijing 2008 to make BA Baracas look like the Dalai Lama, to try to work out the least successful Olympic nation ever.

But what the hell.

There are 74 nations that, at the beginning of this year’s Olympiad, had never won an Olympic medal of any colour. The reasons are various, although none is, on its own, enough to guarantee failure.

Poverty, for example, is a huge impediment to producing sporting champions, but Kenya (where the average wage is $5 per day) has won eight medals so far in Beijing, bringing its all-time total to 69. Other important factors are war (although Ethiopia has won 34 medals to date despite being at war for more than half of its 52-year Olympic membership) tiny populations (although Luxembourg has three medals despite a population of 486,000) and short existence (not a problem for Armenia, which has won eight medals since it began competing 12 years ago).

Some nations are dogged by a combination of these factors, but the ability of other countries to overcome similar difficulties suggests that genetics and culture are significant. Some peoples, to be blunt, are just bad at sport – or at least those disciplines deemed worthy by the International Olympic Committee.*

Caveats aside, the question remains: which country is the worst Olympic performer? Depending on which method you choose, it’s a toss-up between Monaco and Bangladesh, but it’s worth taking an in-depth look before leaping to any conclusions. Click on the link below to make up your own mind.