— Published 27 July 2023

United States, China, France, the next Olympic trifecta

The exercise has become a ritual. With one year to go before the Olympic Games, the Nielsen Group’s Gracenote agency engages in the delicate, but always eagerly awaited, exercise of medal predictions. In an attempt to predict the future, the agency looks to the past and scrutinizes individual and team results from previous Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cups.

Her analysis is purely statistical. It ignores the human factor, the pressure of the event, the conditions of the competition. Nevertheless, Gracenote is rarely far wrong.

Its latest issue suggests a medal ranking for the Paris 2024 Games in which the strongest nations remain where they are, France offers itself a historic position, Japan slips back, and Great Britain continues to roll up the sleeves. As for Russia, it does not appear in the table, Gracenote having chosen to wait for the IOC’s decision before including its athletes in its statistical data.

In the lead, the United States would dominate China. A habit. France would make it into the top 3, surpassing its target of becoming one of the top five nations. Great Britain would follow one place behind. Japan would be hungover, three years after its historic Tokyo Games result, but without slipping into the bottom half of the ranking.

The United States, then. If Gracenote is right – and no one doubts it – they’ll take first place for the eighth time in a row. Clearly, only another result would be an event. The agency predicts 128 medals at the Paris Games, compared with 113 at Tokyo 2020. Team USA would be on the podium in 30 different sports, with a razzia predicted in athletics and swimming, where the American team would account for 48% of total medals. Next year, the USA could even beat its own Olympic record for the most medals in the most different sports, set three years earlier in Tokyo (29).

One place below, China. The other behemoth of the Olympic movement. The Chinese never disappoint. Nor do they surprise very often, except at home (Beijing 2022). Gracenote has predicted 68 medals for them, a result very similar to that of the Rio 2016 Games (70), but below the Tokyo 2020 Games (89). Diving, weightlifting and table tennis are the sports in which China is expected to multiply its podium finishes.

France, now. The host country effect should work wonders for Les Bleus. But without reaching the very audacious, and politically very imprudent, goal of 80 medals brandished in 2017 by Laura Flessel, then Minister of Sports. Gracenote predicts 63 medals, including 32 gold. This should be her best Summer Games since Paris in … 1900 ! France would be second only to the United States in the number of Olympic titles (32 versus 43). France would also be on the podium in 24 different sports. A new record.

No unpleasant surprises for Great Britain. According to Gracenote, it should keep up its good form, with over 60 medals (62) for the fourth consecutive Summer Games. Britain’s success over the last three Olympic Games has been built on the presence of medallists in at least 20 sports. Next year, the trend should continue.

Japan? The last of the top 5 guests. Gracenote predicts 54 medals for Japan, a result quite close to its historic record at the Tokyo 2020 Games (58). Proof that the wind isn’t always completely out of Japan’s sails. However, the number of gold medals should be more than halved, dropping from 27 to 12.

The rest of the ranking shows, in the top 10, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and South Korea, ranked in that order between places 6 and 10.

Ukraine, whose participation remains uncertain, would slip into 15th place, with 17 medals, including 4 gold. Kenya, in 18th place with 14 medals (including 5 titles), would be the highest-ranked country on the African continent.