GORDON: Olympic Medal Tables Show Deep Anti-US Bias

J. D. Gordon Former Pentagon Spokesman, George W. Bush Administration
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Well, another Summer Olympics is behind us. America had one of its best games ever.

Yet once again the medal tables and worldwide press coverage showed a deep anti-U.S. bias, particularly in the official rankings kept by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). We should demand meaningful reforms immediately.

Even though Americans who tuned into NBC, which paid $7.75 billion to carry the games from 2014-2032, saw the U.S. as #1 throughout the two-plus weeks, most overseas audiences saw the official Olympic box score listing China as #1 for most of it.

That’s because the IOC medal table listed “Gold Medals” only for determining national standings while U.S. media outlets used a “Total Medals” standard. Google was a notable exception, listing the China-friendly IOC numbers in its search engine. Because of course they did.

Since China consistently led in gold medals up until the very last day. This yielded a two-week pro-China propaganda blitz with headlines like this gem from Yahoo! Sports Columnist Dan Wetzel: “Sorry, America: China’s leading the real Olympic count,” including his flawed observation that “China is kicking the United States’ tail.”

Americans would never have stopped hearing from critics, foreign and domestic, how we “lost the 2020 Tokyo Olympics” if Team USA hadn’t prevailed 39-38 in gold medals. An eleventh hour string of victories from our first Women’s indoor track cyclist champ combined with major team sport golds in Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Women’s 3×3 Basketball, Women’s Indoor and Beach Volleyball and Women’s Water Polo sealed a complete national triumph. Thanks to Title IX, U.S. women have had a distinct advantage in global sports since 1972. It’s one reason why protecting girls’ sports is essential to keeping it.

When the final count in “Total Medals” was tallied, USA: 113 – China: 88, many Americans breathed a sigh of relief.

There shouldn’t have been the urge for such relief. The U.S. dominated the Olympics — despite the China and IOC-fed false narratives. Chinese state media still incredibly claim it “won” the games by adding medals from Hong Kong and Taiwan for a grand total of 42 Golds.

Just like gaslighting we see everywhere today, the IOC’s “Gold Medal” ranking system is misleading. Peeling back a few layers shows why.

First, it ignores the grand total of Olympic Medalists.

According to an analysis in Sporting News, the U.S. had over 250. China and Japan had over 120 each. While China captured 88 total event medals to Japan’s 58, the total medalist count is about even because Japan won the major team events of baseball and softball while China mostly won individual and paired events.

Second, it doesn’t address qualitative differences in medals. While the Americans cleaned up on team sports and famous events, the Chinese ran the table on a handful of lesser known solo or double ones. They won golds in diving (7); weightlifting (7); shooting (4) and table tennis (4). Yet does anyone really believe that NBA All-Star MVP Kevin Durant’s Gold Medal as part of the 12-man Team USA roster is remotely comparable to 1/12th of China’s Xie Siyi’s Gold in 3-meter platform diving? Will China’s near clean sweep of table tennis realistically yield four times the lifelong advertising revenue of Sunisa Lee’s Gold for the Women’s Gymnastics Individual All Around title?

Third, it ignores other reliable metrics. For example, the U.S. scholastic box score for track & field typically uses a ranking system of 10 points for first, 8 for second, etc. According to The Sports Examiner, which crunched the numbers for all 339 Olympic events, just like the “Total Medals” count, the top six finishers in order are:

  • #1 USA: 1,291
  • #2 China: 937
  • #3 Russian Olympic Committee: 785
  • #4 Great Britain: 728
  • #5 Japan: 701
  • #6 Australia: 540

So besides for the sake of accuracy and national pride, why should anyone care?

In the midst of a global influence campaign echoing the Cold War’s half-century struggle for survival against an expansionist Soviet Union, China is also attempting to overtake the USA as the world’s superpower. Beijing’s model of communism may not be as outwardly aggressive as Moscow’s once was, but it still seeks every avenue to show dominance and superiority at America’s expense. And like some other international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the IOC appears happy to help. We shouldn’t stand for it.

Also, while there are statistically few world class athletes, everyone benefits in finding extra motivation to get out and exercise. Though my own “Olympic experience” never made it past a 1,000+ place finish at the original course Athens Marathon with its final lap in the ancient Olympic stadium, doing my best was joy enough. Seeing our fellow Americans excel on the field, and be properly recognized for it, not cheated, can hopefully give us all another reason to seek our personal bests in whatever sporting activities we choose.

J.D. Gordon is a former National Security & Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican leaders Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain.  Previously, he served as a Pentagon spokesman during the George W. Bush Administration and is a retired Navy Commander.