Team GB, Olympics and stats

The BBC and Wikipedia probably beat the official Rio website in terms of the data offering and presentation but it was also a feast for others interested in providing numbers, including the media, or browsing them. Here are some links, plus my summary table of the sequence of medal awards – this was valuable in tracking the rate of GB medals so as not to be blown off course by media during the event that (predictably) swung from gloom to over-hyped optimism. 

The BBC did a very nice round up of the medals and funding that got the team to the new heights and would satisfy most user needs. There were more “great” BBC stats (according to the BBC!) that showed off a handful of different datavis options and gave some new angles. It was reassuring to see that Team GB had fewer fourth places than gold, silver or bronze medals! It didn’t feel like that on some days.

That said, it was probably Wikipedia that won gold for detailing all the performances and providing the best, fullest figures. (Here’s the link to the GB page but it shows a similar page for all nations.) The official Rio 2016 site trailed in third.

The Team GB #EverythingCounts pages were a bit less heavy weight. At least they had the patriotic idea (as did many apps) of putting GB top of the table even though were weren’t! Hats off.

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The UK Sport funding figures for the four year Rio cycle were heavily quoted as were the historic numbers. The chart below was on the BBC pages. (And it might have been better presented as a bar chart and more clearly annotated.)

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There were some other off beat data produced. My favourite was the slightly desperate “medals per population” figures produced by the “independent” Statistics NZ. Most of us felt that they came 19th in the medal table but in fact NZ came third – or fifth if just gold is counted!

I suppose if Britain were just a small island off a larger continent (er?) our very own Office for National Statistics would have produced something similar. I had written that it seemed as if the ONS had avoided the temptation to do so (mind you the search function on the website does not really work well).  Yet, as I am about hit “publish”, an email drops into my inbox giving an ONS take on the GDP to medals ratio. (I guess that the beta visual.ons.gov.uk site is not part of the search function.) It says the UK was the fifth largest economy (in 2015) and came second in the medal table.

I was reminded, however, by stumbling across the ONS note about the impact of the 2012 games on the economy (as measured by the statistics) that “it is difficult to estimate the quantitative impact of the Games”. Indeed, but perhaps that’s what statisticians are for. The difficulty did not stop many others publishing such reports, including the government itself (claiming a £41bn windfall) and Lloyds/Oxford Economics.

There are various other data sources. One is Statista which is linked to Sports Reference, the site that aims to be “the easiest-to-use, fastest, most complete sources for sports statistics anywhere”. (Except it is only American sports!) The exception, its Olympics data, is certainly good – a solid database but not yet fully up to speed with the 2016 games.

For Olympics followers, the site had an interesting announcement: “SR/olympics will be going away shortly after the Rio Olympics. The reason for that is within the last few months we have had some good news as we have completed negotiations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have them use www.olympedia.org (currently a user only site) as the IOC Olympic Statistical Database. Soon after Rio ends, we will start transferring our data to the IOC IT people who will start to input it into a site that will be made public and accessible to the media and all other persons desiring use of our data …….. but sometime in 2017 you should be able to see Olympedia as a public site managed by the IOC”. That could be good, not least as the IOC pages do not yet seem to have any 2016 data uploaded!

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The last two weeks has seen some good media work. I quite liked The Telegraph‘s showing various measures of medals by GDP etc

There are also any number of sites offering products for sale, including $325 for this dossier and who knows what for “feeds and hosted solutions“.

Finally, here is an excel sheet with daily Team GB olympics medals.

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