Globalization and Olympics

Paul Blustein of the Washington Post has an article analysing the medal wins of various countries in the Athen Olympics with their GDP and how offers some lessons on how globalization distributes rewards among countries.

Driving that improvement, Warner and other experts agree, is China’s transformation from a largely peasant-based economy to an industrial powerhouse. That has bestowed better health on millions of Chinese and given the government in Beijing the resources to fund a nationwide network of sports schools; as an extra incentive, the government provides cash bonuses for medalists, with a gold worth $24,000, and potentially much more in corporate donations.

While in communist countries the Govt. has to offer rewards to its athletes and fund them, in pure capitalist countries it is not required.

But old-fashioned capitalist wealth offers ample compensation. The government bonuses given to Russians and Chinese can’t compare with the multimillion-dollar contracts that top American athletes get from endorsing commercial products, as witnessed by the ubiquitous Visa ads featuring swimmer Michael Phelps.

Less famous members of the U.S. team can take advantage of deals offered by U.S. companies, such as Home Depot, which pays 49 U.S. Olympic team members a full-time salary with benefits for 20 hours of work a week, allowing plenty of time for training. U.S. Olympic training centers are equipped with laptops, video cameras and sensors designed to give athletes minutely detailed feedback on their technique. The Germans, meanwhile, have developed high-tech boats, bikes and bobsleds to give their athletes an edge.[Winners with wallets]

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