Olympic Medals? Let Me Count the Ways

The Washington Post reports that every day since the games began, the Olympics medal chart has dominated the front page of China's main state-run newspapers. China is always ranked first based on the number of gold medals won. The U.S. media trumpets the total medals tally. Not surprisingly, the U.S. leads using that metric. The Post continues:

"Don't look to the International Olympic Committee to resolve the debate. According to the Olympic charter, medal tables don't have any meaning. The IOC says that the games are a competition between athletes, not countries."

Yeah, right.

Anyway, if only gold medals count, why award the others? Likewise, if a bronze is worth the same as a gold medal, why have the competition? If we are going to compare country medal totals, we need weights.

Give the bronze medal a numeric value - say one. Give the silver a higher value - say 1.25 or 1.5 or even 2 (although I would question whether a silver medal represents twice the value of the bronze). Give the gold a still higher value.

Based on the final medal count, the U.S. would lead 137.5 to 130.75 if the values for Gold, Silver and Bronze were 1.5, 1.25 and 1. If the values were 2, 1.5 and 1, the U.S. lead would be 165 to 161.5. China would lead 223 to 220 if the values were 3, 2 and 1.