Perhaps the most controversial Winter Olympics in history, this year Sochi, Russia has been the focus of several international headlines - many negative. Everything from the dire state of the city's hotels, to the huge issue of Gay Rights, to the concerns over security and the rumored threat of the 'black widow', have thrown Russia into the (somewhat unflattering) spotlight. In the run up to the games, there have been numerous articles speculating about which world leaders would attend, and which would boycott in protest of some of Russia’s questionable human rights policies. Whatever your opinion of the Russian Federation, though, the Games have gone ahead to the tune of approximately $51 Billion USD. It's unclear whether the fact that British PM David Cameron and American president Barack Obama were both conspicuously absent from the games' opening ceremony had anything to do with a 'boycott'- but their country's teams didn't do the same. Any wins will certainly be celebrated by all when the team comes home. 2,850 athletes from 88 countries (plus 1650 Paralympians from 45 countries) are at the Games. The Olympic Park at Sochi holds 75,000, and there will be 25,000 volunteers. The numbers are staggering. There is an expected TV audience of 3 Billion people. Who are the richest countries competing in Sochi? Aside from questions of quality of life, economic equality or even sports prowess, what we do know is that the following countries are, according to IMF 2012 stats, the ten wealthiest countries competing in this year's Winter Olympics. The countries on this list have the highest GDPs of all the countries competing in the games - but is this an indicator of team strength or possible wins? Read the stats and judge for yourself what the correlation might be. There are some parallels, historically, as well as some total misses - probably for reasons of geography and climate. When the Games are over, you can look back at this list to see if a country’s levels of wealth predict their success in international team sports. Do the richest countries give it their all? Read on to find out.
10 Australia: GDP of $1.54 Trillion
This year at Sochi, Australia has its biggest winter Olympic team ever, with 60 athletes. At the last winter games in Vancouver they had 40, and before that 27, decreasing each year prior except 1960 when there were 31. Australia was first represented at the 1936 Olympics, and then again in 1952 and each time since. They won their first medal in Lillehammer in 1994 – a bronze. To date Australia has amassed a total of nine medals: five gold, one silver and three bronze. They will not be competing in curling or ice hockey at Sochi. They are not expected to qualify for Nordic Combined or Ski Jumping, but have athletes in the remaining eleven categories.
9 Canada: GDP of $1.821 Trillion
8 Italy: GDP of $2.014 Trillion
7 7. Russia: GDP of $2.03 Trillion
6 Brazil: GDP of $2.25 Trillion
5 Great Britain: GDP of $2.48 Trillion
4 France: GDP of $2.61 Trillion
3 Germany: GDP of $3.43 Trillion
2 Japan: GDP of $5.96 Trillion
1 United States: GDP of $16.24 Trillion
The largest of any team on this list and indeed the world, the United States’ 230 athletes caps the Russian team by just 7. Their determination to be the best is spurred on by their history. In Vancouver, 2010, the U.S. won 9 gold and a total of 37 medals. Past athlete Eric Heiden (Speed Skating) swept the 1980 Lake Placid Games, winning the five events from 500m to 10,000 m and breaking records for each one in the process. He was also the first person to win five gold medals in one Winter Olympic Games. The U.S. has hosted the Winter Olympics four times, more than any other country. Over the years they have won 256 medals, 87 of which are gold, and are second in total gold medals as well as total medal count only to Norway.
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