14 Aug 2012

Alternative Olympic medals table: the results

Now that the final medals have been won and the athletes have flown home, how would the medals table look if nations were awarded – and penalised – for other factors? Channel 4 News investigates.

Final medals table

We all know the USA topped the medals table with 46 golds and 104 total medals. The 2008 Games hosts, China, came in second place with 38 golds and the Team GB darlings in third with 29 of the top awards round our own Olympian’s necks.

But as well as proven sporting prowess, Channel 4 News has been assessing countries’ performance based on their economics, politics and environmental policies (click here to read more about our methods), and we can now reveal how the top three superpowers are left.


Great Britain ends up top with 36 gold medals: increasing the team’s total by 25 per cent for having 0.89 per cent of the world’s population. Team GB is followed by South Korea (0.69 per cent) on 16 and France on 14.

The USA, with 4.45 per cent of the world’s population – and therefore a penalty of 75 per cent – manages joint fifth place with Russia (1.96 per cent ) on 12 golds. China goes from second place to ninth (10 gold medals) with 19.05 per cent of the world population.


China suffers again when it comes to its policies on political freedom and human rights, plummeting down to 11th place with 10 golds – still managing to stay ahead of Spain in joint 15th place, who are boosted to five gold medals.

The Land of The Free, the USA, remains top with 81 gold medals, but Great Britain fills the Asian void in second place with 51. South Korea nudges ahead of Germany with 20 and 19 golds respectively, coming in at third and fourth place.


However when it comes to debt, China surges top: its debt level stands at just 22 per cent of GDP, netting a bonus of 50 per cent extra to its medal tally, taking it to 57 gold medals. Russia is second (just 8 per cent debt!) with 42 gold medals.

South Korea (33 per cent debt) edges out Great Britain (88 per cent debt) to third with 20 golds to the home nation’s 15. The USA (a whopping 107 per cent debt) limps in joint fifth with 12 golds alongside Kazakhstan (9.6 per cent debt).


In the most surprising result of them all, China gets a bonus of 25 per cent to its medals (taking it to 48 gold medals) for a per capita carbon dioxide emissions total of 4.92 tonnes. The USA is second, incurring a penalty of 50 per cent for emisions of 19.74 tonnes, with 23 golds. Great Britain is third with 22 gold medals – losing 25 per cent of the total for 8.97 tonnes of CO2 per capita.