Resurgent India's Success at Commonwealth Games 2010

Is there a correlation between a nation's economic performance and its success at international sports competitions? Has India's economic resurgence contributed to its achieving remarkable second place status on the medals table at the Commonwealth Games 2010 that just concluded in New Delhi?

Economics professor Daniel Johnson and his student Ms. Ayfer Ali have developed a model to predict a country's Olympic performance using per-capita income (the economic output per person), the nation's population, its political structure, its climate and the host nation advantage. The Johnson-Ali model was described in a paper, “A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympics,” that was written in 1999 with Ayfer Ali, while Johnson was on sabbatical at Harvard University and Ali was a student. It was published in Social Science Quarterly in December 2004."It's just pure economics," Johnson insists. "I know nothing about the athletes. And even if I did, I didn't include it."

"The home-field advantage is not trivial. That's why we structure playoffs the way we do," says Johnson.

Over the past five Olympics since 2000, Johnson-Ali model has demonstrated 94% accuracy between predicted and actual national medal counts. For gold medal wins, the correlation is 87%. For the 2008 Beijing Games, Johnson predicted the U.S. team would win 103 medals in total, 33 of them gold. The Americans ended up winning 110 medals, 36 being gold. With its host nation advantage, China did better than Johnson's forecast. Johnson predicted Chinese athletes would win 89 medals; they took 100. He expected China to earn 44 gold medals by the time of the closing ceremonies at the Bird's Nest in Beijing. The Chinese collected a list-leading 51 golds, besting the model's expectations.

The Johnson-Ali model has not done well for nations other than the top 10. For example, Pakistan, which Johnson suggested would win seven medals, including three golds, won no medals at all at Athens Olympics. In fact, Pakistan has won three golds,three silvers and four bronze medals, a total of 10 medals in the entire history of its participation in Olympics movement since 1948. Eight out of the ten medals were won by Pakistan's field hockey team. The last Olympic medal Pakistan won was a bronze in 1992. India has won nine golds,four silvers and seven bronze medals, a total of 20 medals in its entire Olympics history which began in 1927 while Sri Lanka has won two medals in its history at the Olympics, one silver and one bronze. At Beijing in 2008, India won three medals, including one gold and two bronzes, and Afghanistan won its first-ever Olympic medal, a bronze. Bangladesh is the most populous country in the world never to have won an Olympic medal. Nepal won a bronze medal in Taekwondo at Seoul in 1988, but it was won in an exhibition match not counted among official medals.

Eighty of 205 Olympic committees, representing about 40 percent of the world's nations, have never won an Olympic medal.

Now let's see if Johnson-Ali model has any relevance to the results of Delhi CWG 2010. Representing the host nation, Indian athletes have performed very well, winning second spot on the medals table with 101 medals, including 38 golds, beating England to win the second place with just one more gold medal than England's 37 golds.

As expected, Australians top the medals table with 177 medals, including 74 golds, although down significantly from 221 medals they won in 2006, according to the BBC.

Indians double their medal count to 101 this year from 50 medals in 2006.

England also make gains, winning 142 medals this year, up from 110 in 2006.

Pakistan ranks 17th, on a list of 37 medal winning nations. Pakistan's medal count is flat at 5 from 2006, including 2 golds.

In terms of population per medal, Nauru (2 medals) tops the list with one medal per 5000 people.

India and Pakistan are both near the bottom with one medal per 11 million and 33 million citizens respectively.

Bangladesh is at the very bottom with its one bronze medal for its entire population of 162 million people.

In terms of GDP, Nauru tops with 1 medal per $119 million.

India (101 medals) and Pakistan (5 medals) are near the bottom with $12 billion and $33 billion respectively.

Bangladesh is last with just one bronze for its entire GDP of $94 billion.

Indians deserve to be congratulated for leveraging their rapid economic growth in recent years to achieve remarkable success at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. However, in terms of India's GDP and the size of its population, the Indians still have a long way to go to match the performance of China and OECD member nations at major international sports competitions like the Olympics.

Many of India's best athletes at CWG 2010 are women, including badminton star Saina Nehwal, who picked up the badminton singles gold, putting India in second place ahead of England on the medals table. Many of India's medal-winning women are from the northern state of Haryana, which has some of the worst rates of female foeticide in the country. Let us hope that these girls drive positive social change in this benighted region where the politicians have failed.

With rising enthusiasm for competitive sports and its world-class training facilities built for Delhi Commonwealth Games, I believe India has taken a giant step forward to become a sports powerhouse ready to compete and win in major international sporting events in future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India, Pakistan and Johnson-Ali Model

BBC's Commonwealth Games 2010 Table

India Ranks Below China, Pakistan in Global Hunger Index

Low Status of Indian Women

India's Commonwealth Games Mess

Disaster Dampens Spirits on Pakistan's 63rd Independence Day

UNESCO Education For All Report 2010

India's Arms Build-up: Guns Versus Bread

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

World Hunger Index 2009

Challenges of 2010-2020 in South Asia

India and Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Introduction to Defense Economics


Riaz Haq said…
Here is an excerpt from a Time magazine opinion piece by Hannah Beach on the status of Asian democracies:

Asia gave birth to people power in 1986, when a sea of yellow-clad demonstrators peacefully overthrew a dictator in the Philippines. Other popular uprisings against authoritarianism followed, from Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan to Mongolia and Indonesia. Watching the events unfold in the Arab world, Asia's fledgling democracies can be forgiven for indulging in a moment of nostalgia. While revolutionary zeal may have toppled the region's strongmen, however, too few of their successors have bothered to build the institutions needed to sustain democracy beyond its first flush. Democracy through revolution is heady stuff, but it's not always a template for building lasting freedom and justice.

The withered potential of people power is best examined on its home turf. This month, the Philippines will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the start of its historic uprising. Those following the events in Egypt will find many parallels. Ferdinand Marcos, a corrupt, aging, U.S.-backed dictator, was ousted by a populace that rallied, in part, thanks to technology. (Then it was radio, not Facebook or Twitter.) But a quarter-century later, with the son of people-power heroine Corazon Aquino now serving as President, the Philippines is still beset by the poverty, cronyism and nepotism that provoked the 1986 protests. (See a brief history of people power.)

These failings are not the Philippines' alone. Across Asia, elections are held, but vote buying taints the results. Politics is dominated by the same old families. Economic growth often rewards the few rather than the many. And from Malaysia and East Timor to Taiwan and Thailand, I have met local journalists who passed information on to me because they felt it was too dangerous to write about the issues themselves. Without the crucial check of a free press — or independent legislatures and courts, for that matter — democracy exists in name only.

Still, Asia also offers heartening lessons for the Arab world. There's South Korea, for instance, which overthrew a U.S.-backed military dictatorship, then carefully constructed a prosperous democracy. And then there's Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. In 1998, after 32 years in power, strongman Suharto was forced out by massive street protests. Since then, change in Indonesia has occurred not in one cataclysmic jolt but instead through years of brick-by-brick nation building. That may not sound sexy, but it works. Indonesia has now peacefully cycled through several secular-minded leaders, and its civil society is flourishing. The country's problems are still immense: graft and poverty persist, as does sectarian conflict. But Egypt could do a lot worse than to follow the model of this moderate, Muslim-majority democracy
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Wall Street Journal report on Tour De Pakistan described as "That French Bike Race Might Seem Easy Compared to This One":

This year's edition of the Tour de Pakistan took riders from the southern metropolis of Karachi to the northern city of Abbottabad after 11 stages and more than 1,000 miles. Money is too tight to organize mountain stages so in a country that is home to the world's second-highest peak, the course is mostly flat.

Lack of funding has been a chronic issue for the event, and during its 28-year existence it has been held only 16 times. With a budget from the government of less than $60,000 and virtually no sponsorship, organizers have to be creative: Accommodation for cyclists ranges from courthouse buildings to a sugar mill. In early March, days before the start of this year's race, Idris Haider Khawaja, the race director, considered halving the $10,000 prize money—which is split among the top 10 finishers—to help cover expenses, but decided against it.

Mr. Khawaja figures that sponsors would line up if only he could attract foreign riders. But that's an uphill task with a raging Islamist insurgency responsible for bombings throughout the country. Mr. Khawaja says no one has ever attacked riders during the competition.

Still, Indians didn't get permission from their government to participate; Sri Lankans and Nepalese couldn't be enticed with free airfare; and Westerners were scared, he says. Ferdinand Bruckner, an Austrian cyclist, competed in Serbia during its war with Kosovo and has ridden through rebel territory in Colombia. But Pakistan was a stage too far. He says he was originally tempted but eventually backpedaled.

"If I win a stage or I'm the leader in this Tour, it could be that certain persons don't like it," he says. "In Pakistan it's possible that we can be a target."

The Tour secured the participation of one foreign team: Afghanistan. With a 10-year-old war at home, the five members of the Afghan team say they feel perfectly safe in Pakistan.

"In Afghanistan the situation is not good, and the security is not good," said 24-year-old Afghan rider Hashmatullah Tookhy. "In Pakistan, the whole time we relax."

All participants start the day with a breakfast of spicy omelets and lentils before riding up to 125 miles in 90-degree heat. Four of the nine Pakistani teams are fielded by government agencies and equipped with good-quality bikes. The remainder is made up of students, laborers and jobless cyclists who often struggle to find functioning bicycles. Taifoor Zareen, 20, said he paid about $23 for his bike.

"It's the cheapest bike in the race, but I'm grateful that I got this bike," he said.

And he should be. On another bike, one of his teammates couldn't shift gears during the entire first stage.
Riaz Haq said…
The latest UN population projection is for the world population of close to 7 billion to reach 10.1 billion in the next ninety years and 9.3 billion by the middle of this century.

By 2065, India's population will peak at 1.7 billion (from 1.224 in 2010), and Pakistan's at 285 million (from 173 million in 2010) in the same year, and then start declining.

China will peak at 1.395 billion by 2025, and then it will decline.

Countries as varied as China, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Japan, Viet Nam, Germany, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Thailand and France, in order of population size, account for 75 per cent of the population living in low-fertility countries. Three-quarters of the population living in the intermediate-fertility countries is located in India, the United States of America, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico and Egypt, in order of population size; and Pakistan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ghana, Yemen, Mozambique and Madagascar, in order of population size, account for 75 per cent of the population of high-fertility countries.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a News story on Pak skiers qualifying for winter olympics in Sochi:

KARACHI: Pakistan have qualified for the Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, in February next year.

After participating in International Ski Federation (FIS) races held in Europe and Asia, Pakistan attained the required FIS points for participation in the Olympic Winter Games (OWG), the Ski Federation of Pakistan said on Sunday.

The Pakistani contingent comprising three skiers participated in the FIS races held from February 17 to March 18 in Italy, Lebanon and Turkey.

Mir Nawaz, Karim and Muhammad Abbas of Pakistan achieved 137, 130 and 122 FIS points, respectively.

Mir Nawaz won a silver medal in a momentous run of the FIS race (Slalom discipline) in Lebanon.

Muhammad Abbas of PAF was the first Pakistani skier to feature in the Giant Slalom discipline of Alpine Skiing during the Olympic Winter Games 2010 in Vancouver.

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