TOKYO -- Countries typically splurge on their athletic teams to win medals at the Olympics. But how has this improved their athlete's performance?

An analysis involving investment by governments and Olympic-related bodies and the number of medals won shows that money spent on track and field, swimming and similar sports is the best way to get a return in medals, as opposed to other events.

Based on the results of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the analysis looked at Japan, the U.S., Britain, Australia and Canada, as they all release data on spending to improve the performance of athletes.

The cost of winning was calculated by dividing public support -- including funds given by its government and National Olympic Committee -- for each sport and association in the four years till the Rio Games by the number of medals earned. The definition of public support differs between countries, but an approximate metric was obtained for this study.


In the end, is it just a matter of pride, or doing well results in sizable benefits that vastly outweigh the costs? I was wondering if doing well at the Olympics can bring more positive benefits in terms of soft power than if the same spending was directed at propaganda outlets or other means, and if there was also other benefits economic, political social that makes it such an important thing for a government to spend on.

  • I'm not sure if such comparative studies exist. You might also want to ask on econ SX (if you get nothing useful here) since you're asking about econ outcomes/benefits. Nov 12, 2023 at 10:34


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