The Olympics That Would Have Been: Post-Meet Medal Table Analysis

Following our “The Trials That Would Have Been” series, where we predicted how the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials would’ve played out had the event not been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, last week featured a similar series, “The Olympics That Would Have Been”,  for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

The results were hypothetical, looking at how the events may have played out based on the information available on each athlete’s form prior to the pandemic. Below is an analysis of the results.

With our 2020 Olympics That Would Have Been in the books, it’s time to look back at the hypothetical results and see how things overall compare to recent editions of the Games.

As we look at the medal table, it’s important to remember that there were three events that made their Olympic debut in 2020, meaning more medals were available to be won (men’s 800 freestyle, women’s 1500 freestyle, mixed 4×100 medley relay) than in any year previous.

Check out the final medal table for the hypothetical 2020 Games:

Final 2020 Medal Table

GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
USA 17 4 8 29
Australia 4 7 8 19
Russia 3 2 2 7
Hungary 3 1 1 5
Japan 2 5 1 8
Lithuania 2 0 0 2
Italy 1 3 2 6
Great Britain 1 3 1 5
Sweden 1 1 1 3
Ukraine 1 0 0 1
Canada 0 7 2 9
China 0 1 2 3
France 0 1 0 1
Belarus 0 1 0 1
South Africa 0 0 2 2
Netherlands 0 0 1 1
Norway 0 0 1 1
Greece 0 0 1 1
Germany 0 0 1 1
Denmark 0 0 1 1

The United States topped the medal table with 17 gold and 29 total medals. The gold count is the nation’s highest since 1984 (21), and one more than it had in both 2012 and 2016. However, the 29 medals won is the country’s first time under 30 since 2004 (28).

In a clear second was Australia, earning 19 medals to nearly match it’s total from 2012 and 2016 combined (10 each). It is the country’s highest total since 2008 when it won 20. The Aussies also had 18 in 2000 and 15 in 2004.

Canada failed to win a gold medal, but its total of nine gives them its highest number since 1984 (10). In 2016, the Canadians won eight medals.

In terms of the parity in the number of countries who walked away with at least one gold, 2020 fell right in the middle of 2012 and 2016. There ended up being 10 different nations with a gold medal, compared to eight in 2012 and 13 in 2016.

However, there were 20 countries to win at least one medal of any color, up from both 2012 (17) and 2016 (18).

Check out the London and Rio Olympic swimming medal tables below for reference:

2012 Olympic Medal Table

*Does not include open water medals

Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 16 8 6 30
China 5 2 3 10
France 4 2 1 7
Netherlands 2 1 1 4
South Africa 2 1 0 3
Australia 1 6 3 10
Hungary 1 0 1 2
Lithuania 1 0 0 1
Japan 0 3 8 11
Russia 0 2 2 4
Spain 0 2 0 2
Belarus 0 2 0 2
South Korea 0 2 0 2
Great Britain 0 1 2 3
Canada 0 1 1 2
Brazil 0 1 1 2
Tunisia 0 0 1 1

2016 Olympic Medal Table

*Does not include open water medals

Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 16 8 9 33
Australia 3 4 3 10
Hungary 3 2 2 7
Japan 2 2 3 7
Great Britain 1 5 0 6
China 1 2 3 6
Canada 1 1 4 6
Sweden 1 1 1 3
Italy 1 0 2 3
Denmark 1 0 1 2
Spain 1 0 1 2
Kazakhstan 1 0 0 1
Singapore 1 0 0 1
South Africa 0 3 0 3
Russia 0 2 2 4
France 0 2 0 2
Belgium 0 1 0 1
Belarus 0 0 1 1

There ended up being four nations who won a medal in 2016 that didn’t in 2020, and six who made their way onto the medal table after failing to do so in Rio. The countries that medalled in 2016 but didn’t here were Kazakhstan, Belgium, Spain and Singapore, while Lithuania, Norway, Greece, Ukraine, Germany and the Netherlands won a hypothetical medal after falling short four years ago.

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AnEn
3 months ago

Only 1 bronze for Germany would be super disappointing. I hope for at least 3 medals + 1 or 2 open water medals.
: Will there be “The Olympics That Would Have Been” articles for the open water races?
I think Canada and especially Australia are a bit “overrated”.

Rafael
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Brazil 0 medals also
I expect a bronze or silver by fratus maybe a bronze from men 4×100 free and one medal from Ana Marcela on OW

Guilherme Freitas
Reply to  Rafael
3 months ago

I’m believe in a medal for Fratus in 50m free (silver or bronze) and the Brazilian 4×100 free maybe stay on podium too

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Rafael
3 months ago

I can live with goose egg from Brazil.

Admin
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

We’ll think about doing open water. The challenge is that open water is substantially less predictable than pool swimming because of the higher variation in the actual racing element. So, we’ll have to really think hard about it.

AnEn
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

I don’t get the problem. So you don’t want to make a prediction (for something that noone will ever be able to check whetther you were right or wrong), because it is less predictable? I also don’t see how open water swimming is less predictable than for example women’s 200 fly or women’s 50 free. The first open water event will take place tomorrow, so you don’t have much time to think about it. I guess the open water events don’t interest american fans as much, so it is somewhat understandable that you don’t care too much about it.

leisurely1:29
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Make your predictions, then we’ll all downvote and argue in the comments. Simple as that.

John
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

do you feel better?

AnEn
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Interesting to see the reaction to this comment. So which part is it that people don’t agree with?
a) Germany winning 1 bronze would be disappointing
b) Me hoping for Germany to win 1 or 2 open water medals
c) Canada being overrated with 9 medals
d) Australia being overrated with 19 medals
Would love to hear the reasoning of the people who downvoted my original comment.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

a) Kohler should win the bronze in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle but will have a battle versus Titmus for bronze in the women’s 800 meter frerstyle. b) no comment c) That depends which Ruck shows up, the one from 2018 or the one from 2019. If any female swimmer has been a major disappointment the last three years, it’s Oleksiak based upon the results at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Masse should win the silver in the women’s 100 meter backstroke, Masse will battle Baker for the bronze in the women’s 200 meter backstroke. Pickrem and Wog are both definite threats in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke. MacNeil should win the gold in the women’s 100 meter butterfly. Pickrem is… Read more »

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Do you believe Kohler will beat Titmus in the women’s 800 meter freestyle? Which German female swimmer is a serious threat to win an individual medal aside from Kohler in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle?

AnEn
Reply to  Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
3 months ago

I believe that Köhler would have beaten Titmus this year if Titmus would have even competed in the 800 free.
The only other possible female medal contender is Hentke in women’s 200 fly. Köhler should medal in the 1500 free, Wellbrock should win more than bronze in the 1500 free and at least one out of Wellbrock and Köhler should medal in the 800 free. Other athletes like Koch (men’s 200 breast), Heintz (men’s 200 IM), Hentke (women’s 200 fly) or Kusch (men’s 100 fly) have outside medal chances at best.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Hentke (2:08.69 heats, 2:08.14 semis, 2:07.30 final) finished 4th in the women’s 200 meter butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. In comparison, Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith (DOB 09 Feb 2002) posted times of 2:06.11 and 2:06.39, respectively in the women’s 200 meter butterfly at the 2020 TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines dated 05 Mar 2020.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Hentke ranked fifth with respect to the 2019 Annual Top Perfomers List in the women’s 200 meter butterfly behind Flickinger (2:05.96), Drabot (2:06.59), Hosszu (2:06.62), Kapas (2:06.78), Hentke (2:07.16). At the age of 31, Hentke is no spring chicken.

Dee
3 months ago

USA probably about right; I don’t feel the team looks like it’ll be as strong as 2016 relative to competition, and 4 fewer medals sounds about right to me. I think the Australian team looks better than 2016, but not 9 medals better. 12-15 medals would be good for the Australians imo. I think GBR will be be sending a stronger team than 2016, so fewer medals would be a little disappointing, but everything went so well for us in 2016 it’s perfectly possible and probably about right. I expect 6 or 7 medals for Canada rather than 9 (MacNeil, 3x relays look very likely, and Masse, Oleksiak, Pickrem, Wog & Ruck will throw in a few medals between them).… Read more »

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Dee
3 months ago

Nope! USA: men 10, women 14, mixed 1 for a total of 25. The male contingent from the USA will be lucky to garner ten medals. For example, the men’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay is no longer even a given for the USA. In addition, to predict Ryan Murphy to win gold in the men’s 100 meter backstroke after failing to medal in the men’s 100 meter backstroke at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships is homerism at its finest. 50 FR, 100 FR, 100 BK?, 200 BK, 100 FL, 200 IM?, 400 IM, men’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, men’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay?, men’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay. Will Chase Kalisz… Read more »

Dee
Reply to  Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
3 months ago

On my own numbers, I actually had the US around 25 similarly to you, but I tend to low-ball them by a few so figured 28/29 would be around the end mark.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Dee
3 months ago

The end of the Lochte/Phelps era. The USA men will feel it.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Dee
3 months ago

The USA women are legitimate (Manuel, Ledecky, Smith, King, Flickinger). If you are going to low ball team USA, it better be on the men’s side of the ledger.

Flickinger is on the list since Hali has been one of the top performers in the world rankings since 2018.

Women’s Event (LCM)
200 FL
2018 – 2nd (2:05.87)
2019 – 1st (2:05.96)
2020 – 1st (2:06.11)

commonwombat
Reply to  Dee
3 months ago

Am tending to be on the same or similar page. USA stated medal total is within the range of plausibility, altbeit at the high outer limit. 25-29 is my “realistic” range Concur re AUS. 19 is honestly an “all planets aligning” scenario. 15-16 is my top line of “optimistic but reasonable” with 10-12 being my most likely. 4 golds is plausible and probably one they would walk away reasonably happy with given London & Rio. Best case gold scenario would probably be 6 but equally realistically could be as low as 1. Agree that 9 might be a bit top side of expectations for CAN but correspondingly, I could see 1-2 of those minor medals turning up gold. GBR probably… Read more »

commonwombat
Reply to  Dee
3 months ago

Am on the same or similar page with your summations. The stated USA total of 32 IS within the realms of plausibility but distinctly “high end”; my range is around 25-28 given this US men’s side looks slightly weaker than previous editions. 19 medals for AUS is real “everything goes right plus outside bets” territory. 15-16 is really my most optimistic scenario but suspect its likely to be anywhere between 8 and 13. 4 golds is a “defensible” prediction; 6 is my “top line” but would not be surprised if its as low as 1-2. Concur re GBR being around ‘ball park” re total medals although I wouldn’t be surprised if there isnt at least 1 more gold CHN is… Read more »

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  commonwombat
3 months ago

USA – men (10), women (14), mixed (1) Men – 50 FR, 100 FR, 100 BK?, 200 BK, 100 FL, 200 IM?, 400 IM, men’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, men’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay?, men’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay gold, gold, bronze? silver, gold, bronze?, silver, gold, bronze?, gold Women – 50 FR, 100 FR, 400 FR, 800 FR, 1500 FR, 100 BK, 200 BK, 100 BR, 200 BR, 200 FL x 2, women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay, women’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay, women’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay silver, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, silver/bronze, gold, silver/bronze, silver, gold, gold Neither Ledecky or Manuel will swim… Read more »

Dbswims
3 months ago

The real question is how many WRs were hypothetically broken

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Dbswims
3 months ago

8 episodes of “Fantasy Island”.

Smith-King-Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Dbswims
3 months ago

On the women’s side of the ledger, the only world record(s) that will be broken will be by an in form Regan Smith. That does not take into account the relays.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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