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HOME DISADVANTAGE

For a host nation, Brazil isn’t doing too well in winning medals. (But at least it’s no Canada)

By Aamna Mohdin

This so-called “home advantage” has been well documented at the Olympic Games.

An analysis by FiveThirtyEight showed that host nations of the Summer Olympics increased their overall medal count by 20.1 medals and their gold-medal count by 10.9 from the previous Olympics. Home advantage is mostly down to the supportive crowd and the fact that qualification standards are lower for athletes from the host nation.

But not poor Brazil, which hasn’t been having the best of Games. Before the Games began, Brazil was confident it would enter the top 10 of the medal rankings. By comparison, Britain (population: 64 million) finished third in the London 2012 Games, while China (population: 1.4 billion) ranked first at its Beijing 2008 Games.

Brazil (population: 200 million) is ranked 15th at the moment— and with just a few days left of the games, some are wondering whether Brazil’s lackluster performance is the worst by a home nation (paywall). Not quite.

Host City Gold Silver Bronze Total Overall rank for host nation (golds)
Los Angeles 1984 83 61 30 174 1st
Moscow 1980 80 69 46 195 1st
Beijing 2008 51 21 28 100 1st
Atlanta 1996 44 32 25 101 1st
London 2012 29 17 19 65 3rd
Rome 1960 13 10 13 36 3rd
Sydney 2000 16 25 17 58 4th
Tokyo 1964 16 5 8 29 4th
Munich 1972 13 11 16 40 4th
Barcelona 1992 13 7 2 22 6th
Seoul 1988 12 10 11 33 6th
Rio 2016 5 5 5 15 15th*
Athens 2004 6 6 4 16 15th
Mexico City 1968 3 3 3 9 15th
Montreal 1976 5 6 11 27th
*Still in progress

While Brazil has yet to enter the top 10, the host nation has at least won some gold medals, unlike Canada, which became the first host nation to fail to win a gold medal on home soil during the disastrous 1976 Montreal Games. Mexico City’s 1968 Games and Athens in 2004 round off the bottom three of worst performing host cities, both winning just 1.7% of the medals awarded (paywall). Greece only won six golds 12 years ago.

And though Brazil’s performance has yet to meet expectations, the results of the 2016 Summer Games have been the best so far for the soccer-loving nation. Brazil’s current overall rank is its highest in Olympic history and with the sports in which Brazilians are favorites for the podium yet to reach the finals, Brazil is set to beat its Olympics record of total medals (currently 17 from the 2012 Games).

So it’s not all doom and gloom.