The Winter Olympics open in 30 days, and Norway is expected to lead the medal standings for the second time in a row, even topping the record of 39 medals in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This is the prediction from US-based Gracenote Sports, which announced its medal table forecast on Wednesday with the Beijing Winter Games opening on February 4th.
Nielsen-Gracenote provides statistical analysis to sports leagues worldwide. Its Olympic numbers are based on computer models that analyze the recent results of major competitions – and smaller ones – in the run-up to Beijing.
Norway is expected to win 22 gold medals and 45 overall. More than half of Norway’s medals are expected to go to cross-country skiing and biathlon.
Second place, whose overall medals are used for the order, will be the Russian Olympic Committee with 11 gold and 32 overall. The team in Beijing, as in Tokyo, will be known as the ROC, or the Russian Olympic Committee.
The ROC will have to compete without its national flag or national anthem, as a result of a state-sponsored doping program stemming from the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014. Many critics say the punishment is negligible as athletes still compete in national colors.
According to the IOC guidelines, the athletes will not represent their country, but the ROC.
Germany has been selected to finish in third place with 12 gold and 25 overall. Thereafter, the next seven countries are closely grouped. They are: USA (7 gold, 22 overall), Canada (6-22), Sweden (7-21), Switzerland (5-21), the Netherlands (6-20), Austria (5-18) and France (2 -18).
Japan is expected to produce its most overall medals in a Winter Olympics with 17, including four gold medals. Host nation China is expected to win six gold and 11 overall.
The Beijing Olympics have been shrouded in controversy, with the United States and several other countries refusing to send any senior political representatives to Beijing. At its core are allegations of crimes against humanity, which are mainly directed at Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis for Gracenote, said predictions for Beijing are even harder with the pandemic. Athletes have missed competitions due to travel restrictions, especially last season. And of course, last-minute enrollment lists can change if athletes test positive for coronavirus.
“Hopefully we have the kind of forecast that brings us as close as we usually do,” Gleave told the Associated Press.
“We are looking to get the top 10 counties as close as possible and preferably in the right order,” Gleave added. “But there will be changes in this because it is a sport. Sports are unpredictable. We can not get this absolutely bang on, and we should not expect that either. “
A big question is what to do about men’s ice hockey. The NHL’s withdrawal late last year shakes up the strength of many of the teams. Gleave said Gracenote had originally chosen Canada to win gold, followed by Finland and the United States.
Gleave said the new projection has led Finland to win gold, followed by ROC and bronze for Canada.
Gracenote is expected to update the medal predictions around January 19 and issue a final forecast just days before the Olympics open, as the entry lists are strengthened.