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Spoiler alert! These countries may triumph at the Rio Olympics

With over two months left before Rio 2016, economists at PwC have forecast which countries will win the most medals at the Olympic Games.

In a report on Thursday, PwC predicted the U.S. would clock up 108 medals at the games in Rio de Janeiro, with China close behind with 98 medals.


Resident Maria da Gloria takes part in the Olympic Flame torch relay in Itamaraju, Bahia state, Brazil
Reuters
Resident Maria da Gloria takes part in the Olympic Flame torch relay in Itamaraju, Bahia state, Brazil


Olympic medal forecast by country:

  1. US: 108
  2. China: 98
  3. Russia: 70
  4. Britain: 52
  5. Germany: 40
  6. Australia: 35
  7. France: 34
  8. Japan: 33
  9. South Korea: 27
  10. Italy: 26
  11. Brazil: 25
  12. Ukraine: 20

The economists based their estimates on the size of the competing countries' economies and their performance in the last two Olympics.

"In general, the number of medals won increases with the population and economic wealth of the country; but there are exceptions like Jamaica and Kenya," PwC said in the report.

The size of countries' economies was measured by gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity exchange rates.

"Past Olympic performance is important, reflecting the stronger sporting traditions in some countries and the level of government funding for Olympic sports," PwC said.

"We can see this effect at work in China recently, where state support contributed greatly to their Olympic success in Beijing and London. Sport, it seems, is one area where a planned economy can succeed," PwC Chief Economist John Hawksworth added later in the report.

Being the host nation is also important, according to PwC, with Brazil predicted to perform well despite its dire economic and political straits. The country is seen winning 25 medals, up from 17 in the London Olympics in 2012.

Britain is seen winning 52 medals this year; down from the exceptional 65 it picked up four years ago when it hosted the Games.

"Team GB may be down on its record-breaking London medals total but still ahead of old rivals Germany and Australia, beating its performance at any recent Olympics prior to London 2012," PwC said.

Some countries are seen punching above their economic weight, notably Kenya and Jamaica. The latter is expected to pick up 11 medals, working out at 0.4 medals for every billion dollars of GDP, versus 0.02 for the U.K. and 0.005-0.006 for the U.S. and China.

The biggest underperformer relative to its economy and large population is India, according to PwC. It is seen winning 12 medals this year, double its tally at the London 2012 Olympics.

Russia's forecast strong performance is dependent on its track and field athletes being allowed to participate. The country was suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federation last year after being accused of "state-sponsored" doping. The association is expected to rule on June 17 whether Russian athletes will be able to take part in this year's Olympics.

Countries' ability to successfully host the games is often questioned in the build up to the event and this year is no exception, given Brazil's steep recession, late-running stadium projects and Zika virus epidemic.

Last month, more than 180 doctors and academics called on the World Health Organization to postpone or move the upcoming games "in the name of public health." The international health body replied there was no need. Games have never previously been cancelled other than during World War I and World War II.

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