Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has recently started. The trend of which countries perform better in terms of medal accumulation is almost the same year by year, especially with countries having richer economies. Other says that its is not all about the economy but population also has some effects, or is it really the case? Does economy or population have significant effects why other countries are more successful in the Olympics?

After doing some research, I have found out that there are 4 probable factors:

  • Population (Lots of People)
  • Economy, GDP per Capita (Lots of Money)
  • Policies (Lots of Desire)
  • Specialty (Focus)

Although, we have considered 4 factors, I have decided to plot only the population and GDP per capita which is easily quantifiable and data is readily accessible. The scatter-plot chart was heavily based on the article on The Atlantic by Matthew O’brien’s, Medal-Count Economics: What Factors Explain the Olympics’ Biggest Winners?

The medal tally was summed from all the Summer Olympics between 1896 to 2008. Navigate by zooming in and out, hover over the flag to see more details about the country’s medal tally. The y-axis is represented by the total medals won while the x-axis can be switched between the population and GDP per capita.


Scatterplot Chart: Total Medals Won vs Population and GDP per capita

Here’s another article from The Washington Post by Danyel Reiche, Want more Olympic medals? Here’s what nations need to do to win.

Countries not included:

  • Insufficient data: North Korea, Syria, Bermuda, Eritrea, Netherlands Antilles, Niger
  • Former or dissolved states: Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Russian Empire, Serbia and Montenegro

Data Sources:

Scatterplot chart made with D3. Visualization inspired from:

Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY