Should there be more than three medals per Olympic event?

The first modern Olympics were in 1896 when the world population was roughly 1.5 billion and only 14 countries were wealthy and organized enough to send teams (241 athletes total). There were two medals in each event. The three-medal system was introduced at the 1904 Olympics, in which 651 athletes from 16 nations competed.

World population today is nearly 8 billion. Of those 8 billion, 2,900 are athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Shouldn’t there be more than three medals per event, in recognition that the number of superb athletes has grown since 1904? Why set things up like Harvard and Yale (minus the discrimination against Asians) where the number of slots for elite status is fixed while the population expands, thus leading to ever-more-cutthroat competition?

I feel sad when I see the amazing 4th place athletes get no recognition. Their performances would have earned them gold medals just a decade or two ago, right?

If we just scale the medals by population growth since 1904, there should be 15 medals per event. If there are only 20 or 30 teams competing in an event, that seems like too many. But why not 5 medals? Gold, Platinum, Silver, Bronze, Stainless Steel. It could be 3 medals if there are fewer than 25 athletes/teams in an event (hockey and curling!) and 5 if there are 25 or more competitors (for reference, there are 74 slots for men and 74 for women in figure skating this year and 119 snowboarders in each of the two gender IDs that the hate-filled IOC recognizes (I hope that one day the Olympics will be truly gender-neutral)).

I’m sure that this idea will never be implemented, but would a five-medal system be an improvement over what we have now?

10 thoughts on “Should there be more than three medals per Olympic event?

  1. I agree with this, seriously. Population growth has meant that – in real terms – a larger number of people are competing for the same three medals – and even in neg-pop states like the US it would open more opportunities for strong competitors and potentially expand their sports. The games should expand and the number and kind of medals awarded should also. It’s ridiculous to award three medals to the top competitors when there are so many more people in the world – and I’m actually surprised it hasn’t already been done except to preserve the archaic standards of “Gold, Silver and Bronze.”

    Note that this isn’t a prize “for participation” it’s frank acknowledgement of the world’s population growth.

  2. Equestrian events exist so that rich people can get Olympic medals too, but shouldn’t the medal go to the horse instead of the rider?

  3. Thought everyone got a medal in the millennial olympics. For those of us not paying for cable, the olympics didn’t happen. NBC didn’t allow any videos to be shown online. China said it was manely a chinese affair with very few viewers outside the country. The big news for the last 2 weeks was Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, so no-one cared.

    • Every Olympic, I use the aerial (antenna) for the first time in a few years.

      You should try it, if you own a TV, works quite well.

      The problem is that they are showing few sports that a heterosexual male would enjoy, with the slight exception of ski/snowboard gymnastics. Figure-skating, blaaah!

      Somehow the focus is on sports where USA has medal opportunities, which skews the picture quite a bit from traditional winter sports.

      In summer Olympics of course, the medal opportunities are everywhere for USA.

  4. I think I should get a medal for watching: I donated my time and attention to the causes of mainstream media advertising revenue and increasing the status of performance enhancing drug users. I recommend Polished Turd grade at least.

  5. The trend in kids events is to give everyone medals. I don’t see how the current arrangement is tenable once the racial equity folks discover how many medals Norway wins.

  6. > I feel sad when I see the amazing 4th place athletes get no recognition. Their performances would have earned them gold medals just a decade or two ago, right?

    No, athletes performance and ability has not changed much over the decades. Better training, better outfits, better stadiums and controlled environment are the factors today’s athletes breaking records and making them to appear as if they can endure more.

    Just Google the subject and you will see, or start with this link:

    There was a TV program on this topic many years ago. One of the examples was about Michael Phelps who set whole new records. The TV program highlighted the advantages Phelps had over his pears of decades ago: the fine woven swimsuit and how it is customize to his body and new design of the swimming pool that generating far less waves.

    You see the same with NFL players. Receivers now wear gloves with adhesive property making them better at catching and holding onto the ball. The rules of the game (less contact) and covered stadiums, to name some, are all factors for better performance.

  7. If idea is to have more medals then comparison to earlier Olympics is counterproductive.
    Let’s take 1924 Winter Olympics vs 2022 Summer Olympics and 1924 Summer Olympics vs 2022 Summer Olympics.
    World population in 1924 was about 2 2 billion, in 2022/2024 is about 8 billion, 4 times larger.
    1924 Winter Olympics – 14 events in 6 sports; 2024 Winter Olympics 109 events in 15 sports, about twice as many events per person as in 1924
    1924 Summer Olympics – 126 events in 17 sports; 2020 Summer Olympics – 339 in 33 sports, approximately 1.6 times less events per person, but with relaxed rules in some sports 2 bronze medals are now awarded so I would say about the same # of medals per person.

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