Hosting the Olympic Games: Benefits for the Host Country

The Olympic Games are one of the most spectacular and important sports events, attracting the interest of billions of spectators globally. Every four years the world’s leading athletes, compete in different sports aiming to win the highest distinction in their career; an Olympic medal under the sound of their nation’s anthem in the Olympic stadium.

Abstract

The purpose of this research is about the benefits in the performance for the host country in Olympic Games. Every four years, a country is selected by the IOC to host the Games. The goal of the study, is to show that each Olympic year the host country of the Games, improves its overall position and performance. To do so, the data that collected and analyzed, concern the host countries of the last 8 Olympic Games (1988-2016). The last part of the research is about predicting the performance of the host countries (Japan and France) for the upcoming two Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024) by using the statistical method, “forecasting”.

Few Introductory Words for Olympic Games

The idea of the modern Olympic Games was born in 1894 by the French educator and historian Pierre de Coubertin who also founded the International Olympic Committee – IOC. The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, where 14 countries participated, with a total of 241 athletes. (By the end of the Games, Greece, the host country, came second on overall performance, with 10 champions, second only to the Olympic team of the United States with 11 champions.)

Until 2016, when the last Olympic Games were held at Rio, Brazil, a total of 31 Olympic Games have been organized by a total of 19 different countries (some countries have hosted the Games more than one time, such as the United States of America – 1904, 1932, 1984, 1996 and France – 1900, 1924 and will also host the 2024 Games).

The host of the Olympic Games is decided by the IOC and its committee. Many countries vie for the opportunity to host the event; as the Games have evolved dramatically through the years to be the world’s leading sports event with social, economic and cultural benefits for the host.

Apart from the above mentioned benefits, hosting the Games also has an impact on the host country’s performance. The main purpose of this research is to show that historically, the country that hosts the Olympic Games improves its performance and position in the final ranking, in comparison to the rest Olympic Games it has participated at.

Analysis of the last 8 Olympic Games

The data of this research will be limited to the last eight Olympic Games (1988-2016) by making a performance analysis of the eight different host countries of those Games, which are mentioned below:

Olympic Games - Host Countries

19881992199620002004200820122016
South KoreaSpainUSAAustraliaGreeceChinaGreat BritainBrazil

The last part of the research will be a prediction for the host countries of the next two Olympic Games; whether or not Japan will improve its position in the upcoming Olympic Games at Tokyo in 2020 and France at the Games that will be hosted at Paris in 2024.

The first graph depicts the overall position ranking of the aforementioned countries in the last eight Olympic Games.

In order to have a more comprehensible view of the first graph the above results will be presented focusing only on the first 36 positions, by designing the second graph:

Through a short analysis of the results, it is observed that seven out of eight host countries received their best position in the overall position ranking, of the last eight Olympic Games, in the Games that they hosted. The only exception is the team of Great Britain which will be analyzed thoroughly later.

First, South Korea organized the Olympic Games of 1988 at Seoul and received the 4th position in the final ranking table, which is until nowadays their best position. Four years later, Spain hosted the Olympic Games, in Barcelona. On those Games, Spain improved its ranking by 19 places, jumping from the 25th position in the Olympic Games of 1988 to the outstanding 6th position in the hosted Games of 1992, the best of its Olympic history.

The same observation can be made for China and Brazil. China’s best position in the Olympic Games history so far, was achieved in the Games they hosted, in Beijing, in 2008, by receiving for the first time, the 1st place in the final ranking table. Moreover, Brazil, the host of the latest Olympic Games (Rio 2016), earned its best position by receiving the 13th place in the final table during those Games. Australia’s best position in the last eight Olympic Games was at Sydney in 2000, by receiving the 4th place. The same occurred with Greece in the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens, where it finished in the 15th position, the country’s best during the last eight Games.

Even the team of the United States of America, a nation which is by far the most successful (USA has never ranked outside the top 3 countries, usually receiving the 1st or the 2nd position) in the history of the Olympic Games improved its position when it hosted the Games. USA organized the Games of 1996 in Atlanta; and as is depicted at the second graph above, their final position improved in comparison to that of the previous Games of 1988 and of 1992. Last but not least, the exception of Great Britain: They received their best position in the Olympic Games of 2016 in Brazil, where they earned the 2nd position, whereas at the Games of 2012 in London, they earned the 3rd position. So, Great Britain was the only country that didn’t have the best position while hosting the Games during the last eight Olympiads.

In order to find the percentage of improvement of a host country over the last eight Olympic Games, the results need to be shown in a common base. Therefore, the data were normalized to an equivalent of 100 participating countries in each one of the last eight Olympic Games.

The table below shows the total number of participating countries in the last eight Olympic Games.

Number of Countries Participating per Olympic Games

1988 - South Korea1992 - Spain1996 - USA2000 - Australia2004 - Greece2008 - China2012 - Great Britain2016 - Brazil
159169197200201204204208

The third graph below shows the overall ranking for host countries; by normalizing the total to a 100 competing countries in each of the last eight Olympic Games.                                 

In order to have a more comprehensible view of the above-mentioned overall position ranking, the above results will be presented focusing only on the first 20 positions by designing the following fourth graph.

The position of every country in the Olympic Games, when the data were normalized and expressed as if there were 100 participating countries, follows the same pattern, deducting the same observation; that in every Olympic year for the last eight Olympic Games, every country, apart from Great Britain, received its best position when it organized the Games.

Finally, by knowing the position of every host country, in each one of the last eight Olympic Games, the following bar plot depicts the average position of every country of the sample.

By expressing the countries that participated in the last eight Olympic Games to a common base (100 countries), the mean position value will be used to find the percentage of position improvement.

The bar plot diagram below, depicts that percentage of position improvement for every host country for the last eight Olympic Games. Concluding that analysis, it is observed that when Greece hosted the Games of 2004, it did better than its average position, and it reached a percentage improvement of 12,5%. Brazil had the second highest percentage improvement with 7,9%, in the Games of 2016. Spain, with the 6th position it received in the Games of 1992, got an improvement percentage of 6%. The smallest improvement percentage was observed for the USA and it was 0.35%.

A general comment is that countries that are not usually in the top performing countries benefit more by organizing the event. Countries such as Greece, Brazil and Spain climbed more positions when they hosted the Games than countries which are usually in the top performing nations, such as USA, China and Australia. But even though every country that hosted the Games improved its overall position, the reasons for that vary with the most common of them being the following:

• Every host country has the advantage to participate with more athletes than any other country in the hosted Olympic Games (i.e. at Rio 2016, Brazil participated with almost 465 athletes in 28 sports whereas in the Olympic Games at London in 2012, Brazil only had 258 athletes, participating in 24 sports.)
• Athletes of the host country are more familiar with the home venues and are used to the environmental and climatic conditions, as they have competed, trained and lived most of their lives in them.
• Parallel to the above, athletes of the host country usually don’t need to travel long distances and are therefore avoiding the jetlag and other difficulties that athletes coming from other countries face.
• Host nations invest money in sports training programs and facilities that might have a chance for success, typically around 6 years before the Games, so that they improve their overall performance. (i.e. Great Britain increased its funding and its performance in Cycling in the  Games of 2012)
• Lastly, the host country has the crowd factor. It is competing in front of its own crowd and getting higher support from the fans. Moreover, the crowd noise has been observed to influence judges to give higher scores to “host” athletes in sports where this is applicable, such as boxing, gymnastics and team sports. (i.e. Balmer, Nevill and Williams (2003) showed that referees give more points to athletes of the host countries. Furthermore, they also state, that, at the Sochi winter Olympics, (Russia, 2014) champion skater Yuna Kim from South Korea was defeated by Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova, a decision that was widely criticized as one where the judges were influenced by the cheering.)

Predictions for the upcoming two Olympic Games

The last part of the research is about predictions for the upcoming two Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024). So what is going to be the expected position for the host country -Japan- in the Olympic Games of 2020?

In order to determine that, the statistical method called “forecasting” was used, as is usual for predictions, with a confidence level of 95%. By taking into account the positions of Japan in the previous eight Olympic Games, a forecasted prediction for the upcoming Games of Tokyo is depicted in the graph below:

So, a prediction for Japan for the Olympic Games 2020 is that it will improve its position from the 6th place it received at the Olympic Games of 2016 to the 4th or 3rd place, which is going to be the best position of Japan’s Olympic history since the Games of 1968 at Mexico, where it gained the 3rd position.

By implementing the same statistical method, a prediction for France for the Olympic Games of 2024 in Paris is depicted below.

In the Games of 2016, France was in the 7th place. The predicted position for France at the Games of 2020 in Tokyo is close to the 6th or 5th position; which is expected to improve in the Games of Paris at 2024, by winning the 3rd position, matching its best position since 1948.

Summary

Summarizing the research, in the last eight Olympic Games, seven out of eight host countries improved their final position due to various reasons that were analyzed in detail above. Moreover, it is predicted that the host countries of the upcoming two Olympic Games (Japan and France), will follow the pattern and improve their position in the Games that they will host.


Bibliography

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Asgari, B. and Khorshidi, R. (2013). The effect of hosting on performance of host countries in summer and winter Olympic Games. [ebook] Tehran. Available at: https://goo.gl/XPWYSf [Accessed 8 Jan. 2018].

NPR.org. (2012). One Benefit Of Hosting The Olympics? More Medals. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/Gm9TBj [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018].

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Economicshelp.org. (2017). Advantages of hosting a major event [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/johTDb [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018].

The Times of India. (2016). Host countries win more medals in Olympics – Times of India. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/zHbY9n [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018].

Topendsports.com. (n.d.). Olympic Games Host Countries. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/nW2TGA [Accessed 7 Jan. 2018].

I believe in the proverb of Plutarch: "exercise without physical qualifications and knowledge is incomplete". As an ambitious data scientist, I'm always aiming to broaden my knowledge by interpreting & managing data in order to solve complex problems. In Statathlon, I'm combining my main passions: sports & data science

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