Steven Perlberg of Business Insider quotes a private research note by ConvergEx’s Nick Colas on the correlation between Olympic success and economic strength. “The Winter Olympics are a useful backdrop for case studies on the relationship between athletic performance and economic progress in emerging markets around the world,” writes Colas. “We’ve analyzed the medal count by country since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924, and indeed the results show that athletes rarely make it to the podium until their respective countries experience economic progress and stability.” A few case studies from Colas’s note:
Japan’s Winter Olympic performance history tells a post-WWII recovery story. The country competed in three Winter Games (1928, 1932 and 1936) before it won its first medal – silver – in 1956. Japanese athletes didn’t earn any additional medals until the 1972 games, which the country hosted, and have been consistently making an appearance on the podium since 1980. Japan won its first medal when it was taking off as an emerging economy and getting its economic act together following WWII. Industrialism in the country picked up rapidly following the war, and the Olympic medal consistency coincided with the consumption boom in the 1980s.