Gracenote Releases Virtual Medal Table Forecast One Year Out from Tokyo 2020
Data shows United States again topping the Summer Olympics medal projections, Japan could see biggest home improvement this century
Exactly one year and one day ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies, Gracenote today released its 2020 Summer Games Virtual Medal Table (VMT) forecast. Considering the most up-to-date athlete results from key competitions since the 2016 Summer Games, Gracenote projects gold, silver and bronze medal counts for participating countries at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.
- The United States is expected to win the most medals at Tokyo 2020. This would mark the seventh successive Summer Games during which the US team would have come out on top of the medal count competition.
- After falling to 70 medals in 2016, China is expected to bounce back in Tokyo to cement second place for the third successive Summer Olympics.
- While Japan is expected to improve on its Rio 2016 medal total by 73%, this is not likely enough for the host nation to genuinely challenge China for second place.
- Russia is set to improve upon its total of 56 medals won at Rio 2016. Still, the Russian team is in a battle with host nation Japan for the third position on the medal table. It should be noted that the Russian athletics team is still banned from competition so this total could improve further.
- Great Britain’s medal total is expected to drop significantly from 2016 so their best hope is to break into the top-five rather than the top-three they occupied in the last two Olympics.
- Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympic Games in which fewer than 50% of medal events will be open to men only. The proportion of women’s events rises for the 10th Summer Games in succession.
- Japan is expected to increase its medal total by 73% in comparison to the last Olympic Games. This would be the biggest improvement by a host nation since Spain at Barcelona 1992.
The Top Five Medal Winning Countries
(2020 projection: 124 medals, 2016: 121 medals)
The United States of America is expected to once again top the Summer Games medal table in Tokyo next year. The current Gracenote Virtual Medal Table projection of 124 medals is two up on the total claimed by American competitors in 2016. US medals are forecast to come from 30 different sports which would break the Olympic record of 28 (Soviet Union 1980, United States 2016).
(2020: 84 medals, 2016: 70 medals)
China’s total of 70 medals in 2016 was the country’s lowest return since 2004 and the current Gracenote Virtual Medal Table expects improvement on this in 2020. China just beat Great Britain into second place in Rio by a margin of three medals. This time, host nation Japan and Russia are likely to be the main challengers to China for second place. But data suggests that China will probably be further ahead in 2020 than they were in 2016. The Chinese team is forecast to win medals in 22 different sports, its second highest diversity of medal winning sports, beaten only by the 26 in 2008.
(2020: 71 medals, 2016: 41 medals)
Tokyo 2020 host nation Japan won a record-breaking 41 medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Gracenote currently projects Japan to improve on that total by 73%. The expected gains should come from a combination of more medals in all of Japan’s strongest sports and potential success in new and returning sports which hosts generally enjoy.
(2020: 66 medals, 2016: 56 medals)
Russian medal performance is expected to improve on Rio 2016 with 66 medals currently projected for the country by Gracenote. At the last Summer Games, the Russian team won 56 medals. It should be noted that the Russian athletics team is still banned from competition so this total could improve further.
(2020: 43 medals, 2016: 67 medals)
In 2016, Great Britain became the first country to win more Olympic medals four years after hosting than they won at home. The Gracenote Virtual Medal Table projects a drop of 24 medals in Tokyo next year from their 2016 total of 67. The British team is therefore likely to drop out of the top-four medal winning countries. The reduction in medals for Britain is due to lower expectations in cycling – track, gymnastics – artistic and rowing amongst others. In 2016, those three sports accounted for nearly a third of British medals (22). In 2020 however, they are currently expected to produce just seven podium places.
Countries Ranked 6 to 10 on the Medal Table
(2020: 41 medals, 2016: 42 medals)
Germany’s performance should be similar to that at last three Summer Games according to the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table. The German team finished in the top-three in the first two Summer Games after reunification in 1990. It has since been overtaken by China (since 2000), Australia (2000 to 2008) and Great Britain (2008 – 2016). With the exception of 2008, Germany has tended to hang on to a top-five place on the medal table but the Germans will need well over 40 medals to achieve that next year.
(2020: 38 medals, 2016: 29 medals)
It is possible that Australia and Great Britain will be in a genuine battle for a top-five spot given the likely decline in British medal totals. Australia has been eclipsed by Great Britain at each of the last two Summer Games and have not finished ahead of them since 2004. Australia’s drop in performance at the last two Summer Olympics was mainly due to subpar results in swimming. If Australia is to challenge for a top-five spot on the medal table, success in swimming competitions needs to rise up to the levels achieved from 2000 to 2008.
(2020: 37 medals, 2016: 42 medals)
At next year’s Summer Games, France is projected by Gracenote to produce a medal winning performance similar to 2016. If France again wins 40 or more medals, it would be the fifth time that the French team has broken the 40-medal barrier. Three of those achievements came between 2008 and 2016.
(2020: 36 medals, 2016: 19 medals)
The best-ever Dutch medal winning performance at a Summer Olympics was Sydney 2000 (25 medals). The current projection is for the Netherlands to beat this record at Tokyo 2020 with more medals forecast in cycling – track, cycling – road and sailing than ever before. Unlike 2000 when the record medal count was dependent on multiple medals from a small number of Dutch stars, Gracenote’s projection for 2020 suggests medals will be won by a larger number of competitors.
(2020: 36 medals, 2016: 28 medals)
Italy is projected to improve on its 2016 medal performance at Tokyo 2020 with potential medals coming mainly from fencing and swimming according to Gracenote. The addition of karate as a new Olympic sport also helps Italy as there are currently three Italians named as virtual medallists in that discipline next year.
Proportion of women’s events increases for the 10th successive Summer Olympics
With 339 medal events at stake at Tokyo 2020 there are more chances than ever for athletes and countries to win coveted Olympic gold. The overall increase of 33 medal events compared to Rio 2016 breaks down to a net increase of 20 women’s events, 2 men’s events, 9 mixed events and 2 open events. This means an increased proportion of women’s events at the Summer Olympics for the 10th successive edition. The last time the percentage of events for women did not increase was nearly 40 years ago, at the 1980 Games in Moscow.
The sharp increase in women’s events at Tokyo 2020 is the direct result of ongoing efforts to create better gender equality at the Olympics. For example, the number of men’s events in boxing, canoeing and rowing has been reduced while the number of women’s events in those sports has been expanded. In addition, new Olympic sports must be balanced in terms of gender so the five new sports in Tokyo all have equal numbers of men’s and women’s events.
This means that 46% of events are now women only, 48% are men only and 6% are either mixed or open events. Tokyo 2020 will mark the first time that less than half of the events at a Summer Games are for male competitors only.
Forty years ago at the Moscow Summer Games, less than one quarter of events were women only. Thanks to 10 successive increases in that proportion, gender equality is steadily improving. This should also lead to a new record percentage of female competitors at a Summer Olympics, beating the 45% from Rio 2016.
Japan may record biggest host nation improvement since Spain in 1992
Japan should expect around 71 medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo according to the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table, an increase of 73% on the country’s record total of 41 at Rio 2016. Every Summer Games host nation this century has increased its medal count over the previous event.
The biggest improvement by a host nation this century was China’s 59% increase at Beijing 2008 when they won 100 medals, 37 more than the 63 claimed at Athens 2004. Current Gracenote projections suggest that Japan will challenge that and record the biggest proportional medal improvement by the hosts since Spain increased their medal count from four in 1988 to 22 at Barcelona 1992 (+450%).
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The Gracenote Virtual Medal Table is a statistical model based on individual and team results in previous Olympics Games, World Championships and World Cups to forecast the most likely gold, silver and bronze medal winners by country. This information is presented in simple to understand predictions and seamless data feeds that enable broadcasters, media publishers and pay TV operators to deliver unique Olympic-focused stories across Web, mobile and broadcast properties.
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