Filled with optimism before the start of the Olympic Games and almost always full of holes as a shooting target at the end, the predictions of winning medals are usually followed with interest by athletes in general.
There are skeptics who criticize the prognoses saying that they are pure “guessing”. Even so, they don’t fail to take a look at medal expectations. They look for possible opportunities for future mockery against believers and optimists on duty, who face the risk of being called suckers.
Such behaviors –optimistic and pessimistic–, however, seem more contained in this Olympics in Japan. The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Games, causing the postponement for a year, unprecedented in more than a century of competition.
In addition to doubts about whether the Olympics would happen, the pandemic lashed sports with the cancellation of competitions, including selective tournaments for Tokyo. Travel blocks left athletes without exchanges and, worse still, sports squares were closed in countless countries, hindering and preventing training.
In the face of obstacles, there were no tests of athletes in competitions. Therefore, it is not known under what real conditions each of them arrives in Japan. How to evaluate the confrontations?
One finding, however, is usually true, that host countries improve performance. Understandable, since the high expenses with the organization of the event put pressure on the host country to increase investments in the preparation of its athletes.
The most recent Games show this evolution. In Beijing-2008, China jumped from 63 to 100 medals; in London, Britain jumped from 47 to 65.
Brazil rose a little in Rio-2016: from 17 medals (3 gold) in London to a total of 19 (7 gold). Even so, as the COB (Olympic Committee of Brazil) had changed its criteria for the general classification, opting for the total number of medals, discarding the conventional system (for the greater number of golds), it ended up moving from 22nd to 13th place.
Despite this, the COB could not claim victory, as its goal was to place the national delegation among the top ten, with a total of 27 to 30 medals, forecast later adjusted to 25. Accumulated only 19, learned the lesson and no longer publishes a prediction of medals. At the Olympics, details at the time of the dispute make the difference.
Now, it’s Japan’s turn, which enters the competitions at a disadvantage compared to all past organizers of the Games, that is, they will not count on the encouragement of the home crowd, usually much more numerous and noisy than their rivals . Due to the pandemic, foreign visitors are banned from the Games, and the number of Japanese residents allowed is very limited.
Remember the crowd in Rio, which angered Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault gold dispute won by Brazilian Thiago Braz. The fans help their idols, although, in this case, Braz was competent, setting the Olympic record (6.03 meters).
Calculations published in the Japanese media predict 26 gold medals for Japan. A bold goal for a delegation that left Rio with 12. But for now, as seen above, it is nothing more than a mere prediction.
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