Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

Updates on the Tokyo Olympics

Home benefit gives a small but important advantage. In the Olympics, it could drive the host nation to the medal table. The trend suggests that Japan could turn in every seventh silver medal gold.

There are exceptions. The U.S. score dropped when they started the Atlanta Games in 1996. But it usually gives a solid boost. The country responsible for the start of the Games won 55 percent more medals than average over eight events from Seoul in 1998 to Rio in 2016.

Many factors play a role. Athletes who do not have to travel are a plus, especially with this year’s quarantine rules. Familiarity with routes, stands and stadiums is another. Getting used to the climate also helps.

Host nations also usually send larger groups. Japan, like Brazil in 2016, offers four-fifths more athletes than in previous Games. Organizers usually increase funding for elite athletes. Winning medals is part of the return expected on the money poured into the host. The average cost of hosting the Olympics is $ 5.2 billion, according to a university in Oxford study goes back more than 50 years.

Graph showing the home advantage for the host country in the Olympic Games in terms of the number of medals won against the percentage of the total medals available to Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, China, Greece and Australia in the years they hosted the Olympic Games, 2000 - 2021.

Fans are banned in Tokyo, but the presence of a home crowd is usually a plus as well. Many sports stars say they nourish the energy. Neuroscientists suggests that the part of the brain that controls motor skills is aroused when people know they are being observed. The influence of a noisy crowd on a referee’s decision can be a bigger factor. It can explain research indicating that the host advantage is significant in judged sports such as gymnastics, but not in track and field athletics or swimming.

In the case of male football players, some researchers suggest testosterone levels is higher before a home game than an away game. This is presumably because they feel they are defending their own territory.

The pandemic has complicated the art of medal predictions, as well as all other aspects of the Games. Even without the hustle and bustle of a home crowd, Japan is prediction good to do – its total by almost half. But it has no hope of repeating the triumphs enjoyed by the host nations at the beginning of the modern Olympic era. In 1904, in St. Louis, USA trapped 239 medals. In second place, Germany scored just 13.

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