Which country leads in medals? It depends where you get your news
Canada's Alex Bilodeau celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's moguls final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP / Andy Wong)
Published Monday, February 10, 2014 6:37PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 11, 2014 8:36AM EST
In large part, the Olympics are about bragging rights. And there’s no more obvious measure of achievement than the number of medals won. So, why do the rankings appear different, depending on who’s compiling them?
While athletes, fans and media outlets pay close attention to the medal count during the Games, the International Olympic Committee has specifically ruled out keeping its own medal table, saying in its charter that “The IOC and the OCOG (Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games) shall not draw up any global ranking per country.”
The reality is that medal tables are the creation of media outlets. This leaves it up to media to decide rankings. And those rankings often depend on what media outlet you turn to for news.
Many outlets appear to be using the gold-first system rather than a total-medals won system. The gold-first system ranks countries based on the number of gold medals that country has. If teams are tied in gold medals, then the number of silver medals is looked at to determine which country is on top, then bronze medals if necessary.
The Canadian Press’s medal count, which CTV News is using on its website, employs the gold-first system, which currently places Canada on top.
As of Tuesday morning, Canadians has won nine medals, including four gold, three silver and two bronze. The Netherlands, ranked second, has won seven medals, including three gold, while third-place Norway has seven medals of its own, including two gold.
And despite the IOC policy of not keeping medal tables, the official Sochi 2014 website features a medal table that appears to be using the gold-first system.
The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, however, appear to be using a hybrid system based on the gold-first system as well as total medals won. But the WSJ and AP are also using the gold-first system to determine rankings when teams are tied in overall medals won.
If you’re confused about how to calculate rankings, just remember that there’s no one official way. And while a huge part of the Olympics is about national pride, it’s also about the individual athletes who take home the gold, silver and bronze.