Americans favoured to top overall medal count at Paris Olympics

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The United States is strongly favoured to win the most overall medals when the Paris Olympics open in a month. The big question is this: will the Americans also top the gold-medal tally in a close race with China?

The United States is projected to win 123 medals overall — 37 gold, 34 silver, and 52 bronze. China is forecast to win 87 overall — 36 gold, 29 silver, and 22 bronze.

This forecast is done by Nielsen’s Gracenote Sports, which supplies statistical analysis for sports leagues around the world. It also tracks major competitions involving Olympic sports leading up to the Games.

The United States and China finished 1-2 in both categories in 2021 in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Gracenote’s ranking is based on overall medals won, although others focus the rankings on gold totals. The International Olympic Committee does not compile rankings, leaving this to nations and local media.

This would be the eighth straight time the United States has won the most overall medals in the Summer Games. In 1992 at Barcelona, the so-called Unified team topped the overall count. Those athletes were from the former Soviet Union, which had just broken up as a sovereign state.

The last time the United States did not top the gold-medal count in the Summer Games was in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where China invested heavily and saw dividends.

Next in line with overall and gold totals for Paris are: Britain (62-14), France (56-29), Australia (48-13), Japan (46-12), Italy (46-11), Germany (37-10), Netherlands (34-17), South Korea (29-8).

The next 10 are: Hungary (23-7), Canada (20-6), Spain (18-4), Ukraine (17-2), Brazil (16-7), New Zealand (16-4), Poland (15-5), Denmark (14-5), Turkey (14-4), Ethiopia (13-2).

And 21 through 30 are: Sweden (12-6), Georgia (12-3), Serbia (11-5), Belgium (11-3), Uzbekistan (11-3), Kazakhstan (10-2), Iran (9-4), Croatia (9-3), Romania (9-2), Ireland (9-2).

Host nations always get a bump in medals, and France is expected to get a big one and increase its overall total from 33 in Tokyo. France is forecast to nearly triple its gold-medal output from Tokyo, where Japan picked up a record haul.

Performing at home is an advantage, partly because host nations invest more heavily in training athletes. Then, of course, there are adoring home crowds and the familiar surroundings.

The unknown factor is the presence of Russian and — to a lesser extent — Belarusian athletes. They have been absent from most international competitions over the last two years because of the war in Ukraine. It’s still unclear how many will participate and their influence is difficult to factor into the forecast, Gracenote acknowledges.