TOKYO – The Tokyo Olympics open on Friday and predicting total medals will be more difficult than usual due to the pandemic and the lack of many qualifying events over the past year.
In a forecast made by Gracenote, which provides statistical analysis to sports leagues around the world, the United States is chosen to win the most medals. Americans are also chosen to win the most gold medals. After that, the picking becomes more difficult.
China is likely the next choice, but many of the country’s athletes have appeared in a few international events since the pandemic. This makes predictions difficult as Gracenote’s calculations are based on the most recent performances in high level events like world championships etc.
A team from Russia, Japan and host Great Britain are expected to be in the top five.
“These Olympics are even more unpredictable than usual,” wrote Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Gracenote, in an email to The Associated Press. “Many events were canceled in 2020 and although they were replaced by events held this year, athletes from some countries did not participate in these more recent events.”
Gracenote predicted that the United States would win 96 medals in total. That’s down from the 121 the United States won five years ago in Rio de Janeiro. Gracenote won the United States 40 gold, 27 silver and 29 bronze.
China are chosen to win 33 gold medals, and their overall total is expected to be 66. Gracenote acknowledges that this is likely an underestimate since many Chinese athletes have not been seen competing in the ‘foreign.
“We have made a few adjustments to our usual model, but there is not much we can do for competitors with no results since March 2020,” said Gleave.
The shock is the Russians.
Russian athletes will compete as the Russian Olympic Committee, the latest fallout from the Games’ longest-running doping scandal. You won’t see the Russian flag above the podiums, but the country’s athletes will still be competing. Gracenote chose Russia to win 68 total medals and 21 gold medals.
There is enormous pressure on the host country, Japan.
Japan has never won more than 16 gold medals at the Olympics, which it did in Tokyo in 1964 and Athens in 2004. Before the pandemic, the Japanese Olympic Committee had firmly set its goal of 30 medals. Golden. Japanese officials have toned down expectations, although almost all Olympic host nations have a helping hand being at home.
This time it will be different. Local fans and overseas fans are banned from all sites in Tokyo and sites in the three neighboring prefectures. Only a handful of peripheral sites will allow fans.
“When it comes to whether it is important to get 30 gold medals, I should clearly answer ‘no’,” said Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee last month.
Gracenote took Japan who won 60 overall – 26 gold, 20 silver and 14 bronze.
Great Britain is ranked fifth with 52 medals in total. This would include 14 gold, 23 silver and 15 bronze. Great Britain came as a surprise in Rio, winning 27 gold medals, just behind the United States.
The next five in total are: the Netherlands (48), France (42), Italy (41), Australia (40) and Germany (35).
The next 10 in the overall tally include: Hungary (28), Brazil (24), Spain (23), Ukraine (21), Canada (21), South Korea (20), Turkey (19), India (19), Poland (18) and New Zealand (15).
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