Health investment as a determinant of sport success: a case study of London 2012 Olympic Games

Ali Mohammad Ahmadi, Abbas Asari, Mojtaba Jorly


Introduction: This study estimates the relationship between the number of medals gained by a country and some health and economic indicators. We want to test whether good health affect winning more medals in Olympic Games.

Methods: Total medals were regressed on total population, urban population, adult population, health expenditure and gross domestic product (GDP). The sample consisted of the 84 winner countries at the London 2012 Olympic Games that have won at least one medal. In this regression model, the dependent variable was the number of medals and it was a nonnegative integer. We used a Poisson non-linear regression for analyzing the data. The data for this study were including Olympic medal counts and socioeconomic indicators. We obtained the medal data from Official website of the Olympic and the official book of Olympic Games. Our source for population, GDP and health expenditure data was World Health Organization and World Bank for each country for the year of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Results: There was no statistically significant relationship between urban population and number of medals. But other explanatory variables were significant. By calculating marginal effects, we found that adult population, health expenditure and GDP had more effect on winning medals.

Conclusion: There was positive significant relation between the number of Olympic medals and health expenditure and GDP. It means a wealthier country (even with less population) that spends more percent of GDP on health can gain more medals (like Netherlands with 20 medals) rather than a low income country with large population and less health expenditure (like India with 6 medals). Also the greater adult population (not total population) of a country can lead to produce good athletes and, therefore, cause to win more medals. 


Olympic, health, economic

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