Games get better and better

Every hosting country of the Olympics has improved its performance at the Games when compared to previous editions - at least since the 1980s - therefore it is reasonable to expect that Brazil will perform better in the 2016 Games than it did in London. The Brazilian Olympic Committee has announced it expects Brazil to be top 10 in the medals standings in four years’ time.

In 2012, Australia finished in 10th place, with seven gold medals, 16 silver and 12 bronze. Brazil was in the 22nd place - with three gold, five silver and nine bronze medals – one position better than the Beijing Games.

That means that Brazil should be aiming to win at least eight gold medals in order to feature among the 10 best ranked countries at the Rio Olympics.

It does not look like that much, especially for a country with nearly 200m people and the seventh highest GDP in the world. However Brazil’s best performance ever (excluding the boycotted Games in Moscow 1980) has been only a 16th place in Athens 2004, with five golds.

Having said that, playing in home soil has always proved to make a difference. As Sportv’s columnist Marcelo Barreto pointed out in a recent article, South Korea is arguably the most successful example of the benefits of hosting the Games, when talking about the effect on the medals’ standings. It went from 19 medals in Los Angeles 1984 (6 gold, 6 silver, 7 bronze) to 33 in Seoul 1988 (12, 10, 11), but more importantly, it has always remained in the top 10 since then. Spain also showcased an impressive jump from one single gold in Seoul to 13 in Barcelona 1992, finishing it in sixth place! However that improvement wasn’t sustained in the following Games. In 2012, Spain finished one place ahead of Brazil, with the same number of golds (3) and total medals (17), but with more silver medals (10 against 5).

Therefore, although it is not unimaginable that Brazil could win eight gold medals and feature as one of the best 10 countries in the medal standings in 2016, which is certainly a huge challenge on the hands of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB). A task maybe even more difficult than the Organizing Committee’s to deliver excellent Games.

Brazil does not have a tradition of investing in grass-roots sports, and so the Ministry of Sports has decided to invest a large sum of money in elite sports.

In the four year cycle from 2009 and 2012, Brazil’s federal government invested R$1.4bn (over $690m) only in Olympic sports. Many expect even a higher investment in the next cycle, aimed at increasing the country’s performance in 2016. That will certainly generate opportunities for a series of businesses developed around increasing sports performance – from coaching to consulting to technology and so forth. 

If that investment will pay off or not, we’ll only know in 4 years’ time, but hopefully that investment will be made in a way to last longer than just 2 weeks, following more what was done in Korea’88 rather than the Spanish example.  

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