Converging on the Medal Stand: Rio 2016 Olympic Forecasts

Policy Brief
July 2016

This Policy Brief presents forecasts of medal counts at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Building on previously developed statistical models that analyze the correlations between Olympic success and socioeconomic variables, the models underlying these forecasts go further, adjusting for the distortions in the historical record created by large-scale boycotts (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984) and doping. The latter consideration is critical to forecasting success in Rio insofar, as the forecasts are strongly influenced by performance at the immediately preceding Games. Subject to uncertainties over Russian participation and the possible impact of the Zika virus, the forecasts indicate that the United States is likely to continue to earn the greatest number of medals, but China is closing the medal gap. Brazil should get a boost from hosting the Games, but its home field advantage may not be as great as experienced by prior hosts. Slumping performance in Rio could add to Britain's post-Brexit malaise.

Data Disclosure: 

Data disclosure: The data underlying the figures in this analysis are available here.