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Does money always lead to medals?

The 2021 Olympic Games held in Tokyo have come to an end, but throughout watching the games I wondered how few athletes I see winning medals on the podium from low income or developing countries compared to more wealthy countries that invest millions into their athletes. But, does money always lead to medals?


The USA won the Tokyo 2021 Olympics by receiving a total of 113 medals. So, what makes them so amazing? Surprisingly the USA team is not funded by the US government, yet by a not-for profit corporation called "The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee' which is funded by individuals and corporate sponsors. The USOPC distributes a share of $100 million annually to sports and individual athletes to fund their training.

China always seems to dominate the medal table at every game- although they have a newly emerging economy, yet they invest a staggering $1 billion on its National Olympic training infrastructure. The Chinese government runs a number of rigid national programs for each Olympic sport to promote the country's competitiveness, similar to the old Soviet Union. These programs train athletes from a young age specifically to be able to represent Team China. These are essentially full-blown training camps where Chinese athletes, starting as young as age 6, practice their skills. So, there is no doubt the success of China is due to the huge investment in their athletes and training them from a young age.


So, is the reason low income countries do not win as many medals than more developed countries due to lack of investment?


Developing countries are not winning as many medals mainly due to the lack of investment. However, there are many other factors contributing to this if we think wider about the situation. In developing countries due to the lack of investment in grassroot sport there a poor- if any facilities for children to participate in sport and also there is a large lack of PE teachers and coaches. Furthermore, the culture in developing countries does not encourage children to want to pursue a career in sport as it is not seen as a viable career option. Many parents want their children to become engineer or a doctor as it is a more secure career and has a higher salary. Another reason developing countries are winning few medals in the Olympic Games is due to poor nutrition. A lot of young athletes are not receiving proper nutrition and balanced meals they need to be able to develop.


To conclude, I do believe the main factor that high income countries that are more developed dominate the medals at the Olympics is due to the large investment in their Olympic teams compared to poorer countries. However, to increase the number of medals low income countries are winning, the investment needs to be focused on grassroot sport to enable more children to be able to participate and train in sport to create future Olympians.

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