Coming to Play or Coming to Win: Participation and Success at the Olympic Games
Wellesley College Dept. of Economics Working Paper No. 2000-10
21 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2000
Date Written: September 2000
This paper investigates the post-War Summer Olympic Games in order to determine the economic and political determinants of national participation, and of female participation in particular. Success at the Games (i.e., medal counts) is then analyzed in two ways, from the individual level and the national level, showing similar results. Female participation is rising over time, augmented primarily by larger nations. There is a significant and measurable advantage to larger nations (both in GDP per capita and in population) in terms of participation and success at the Games. Furthermore, there are undeniable advantages to being the hosting nation, and to being a neighbor to the host. Equally striking is the fact that while there is no evidence of a bias of Communist and single-party governments to send more athletes to the Games, once there, the athletes of these nations perform exceptionally well. There is support for the hypothesis that colonial links make a difference, imparting a mixed blessing from the past. Predictions for participation and gold, silver and bronze medal counts by nation for the 2000 Sydney Games conclude the paper.
JEL Classification: O10, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation