TOKYO (AP) — If the Tokyo Olympics were opening today, the United States would top the overall medal count and the gold-medal count.
That’s the forecast released Tuesday by Gracenote Sports, which supplies statistical analysis for sports leagues around the world.
Simon Gleave, the head of sports analysis at Gracenote, said his model has the United States winning 51 gold medals, 34 silver, and 41 bronze for 126 overall. China is picked to finish second with 38 gold and 81 overall.
Host nation Japan is third, which would be a strong showing for a country with a much smaller population than China or the United States. Japan is predicted to win 29 gold medals, 67 overall and take advantage of the “home-field advantage” that almost always goes to the host nation. Spain got a boost back in the ‘92 Barcelona Olympics, China jumped in 2008 in Beijing, as did Britain in London in 2012.
The Tokyo Olympics open on July 24, 2020.
The next seven countries ranked in order of overall medals are: Russia (65), Britain (43), Australia (43), France (41), Germany (38), Netherlands (34), and Italy (32).
This is fifth forecast Gleave has put together and the record is solid.
“Sometimes countries over-perform, or under-perform, and that’s not to do with our model,” Gleave told AP in an interview. “That just happens in sport.”
Three years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Gracenote picked the order of the top three countries correctly, and picked eight of the top 10 medal-winning countries. In the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, it correctly picked Norway to win a record number of medals and finish ahead of No. 2 Germany. It also picked the top four countries correctly, and in the correct order. Its predictions for seven of the top 10 countries were within one or two medals of their final totals.
Russia is a major headache. Its track and field athletes are still banned from Tokyo following a widespread doping scandal. The governing body of track and field, the IAAF, has had a ban on the Russian athletics federation since 2015. Russia’s medal total of course will be impacted by any change in eligibility.
“If just before the Olympics, Russia is allowed to enter again it’s going to be a bit of an issue,” Gleave said of the medal predictions.
— Britain finished in the top three in the last two Olympics, but is expected to fall out of that ranking. Look for Australia and Britain to be vying for a spot in the top five.
— The Netherlands is picked to surpass its best overall medal total of 25 — that was 2000 in Sydney — and reach 34.
— The second 10 in overall medal totals predicted are: South Korea (30), Hungary (27), Canada (25), Kenya (20), Spain (20), New Zealand (18), Ukraine (16), Brazil (15), Poland (14), and Turkey (14).
— Women’s participation in Tokyo will almost reach parity with men. Countries not promoting women’s sports are sure to suffer in the medal standings.