What the Olympics Teach Us about International Trade

by Carmen Elena Dorobăț

With the games of the 31st Olympiad winding down at the end of this week, the medal standings tell an interesting story about the results of government investment programs. As many have pointed out, the Chinese government has heavily invested in its sportsmen since the 2008 Beijing Olympics—with the largest mass recruitment program of about 400,000 children in special Olympic schools. This, however, has translated only into a frustrating third place in Olympic medal standings. The UK has also subsidized Olympic sports after London 2012, but although its medal standing has significantly improved in Rio, studies show a decrease in sports participation overall, suggesting a probable drop in their results by Tokyo 2020. By comparison, the USA leads the current and all-time table, although its Olympic program is one almost entirely privately funded—with the exception of small sums offered in support of Paralympic athletes—with the USA being one of the few countries in the world without a department or a ministry of sports as such.

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