Paris Olympic medals headed in big numbers to United States and China in one forecast

(AP) – The United States is predicted to top the medals tables — both the overall count and gold-medal count — for the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to one forecast released Friday, six months before the Games open on July 26.

The forecast comes from Nielsen’s Gracenote Sports, which supplies statistical analysis for sports leagues around the world. It also tracks major competitions involving Olympic sports leading up to the Games.

Forecasting is particularly difficult this time with most Russian and Belarussian athletes likely to be excluded because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago. Some will be allowed to compete under a decision announced late last year by the International Olympic Committee.

“Almost all Russian and Belarussian competitors have been absent from international competitions since February 2022,” Simon Gleave, head of analysis for Gracenote, told The Associated Press. “Any who take part in Paris 2024” will make predicting difficult.

Gracenote predicts the United States will win 37 gold medals and 129 overall. China is a close second with 35 gold, but far behind in the overall total of 85. The next eight with predicted gold and overall medals are: Britain (17-64), Japan (17-56), France (26-53), Australia (15-48), Italy (13-47), Germany (10-39), the Netherlands (16-35) and South Korea (7-23).

For Tokyo in 2021, Gracenote named the top-10 medal winning countries, but not in perfect order. In Beijing 2022, Gracenote named the top five countries, but not in perfect order, and eight of the top 10. It also predicted correctly that Norway would break the record for the most medals won at a single Winter Olympics.

It will be up to dozens of governing bodies to assess and enforce neutral status for individual Russian and Belarussian athletes. They must decide which athletes have not actively supported the war and are not contracted to military or state security agencies.

Russia sent 335 athletes to the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 — winning 20 golds among 71 total medals — but only dozens are likely to compete in Paris as individuals. Russia remains banned from team sports.

Athletes and officials from Ukraine, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have repeatedly urged the IOC to expel Russia and Belarus entirely from the Olympics because of the war Russia started.

The toughest stance on Russian athletes has been taken by World Athletics, which has excluded them from international competitions since the invasion started in February 2022.

Paris is the fifth straight Olympics in which Russia and its athletes have faced calls to be banned following the steroid-tainted 2014 Sochi Winter Games. This was Thomas Bach’s first as IOC president. In Paris, Russian and Belarusian athletes who are eligible will compete as Individual Neutral Athletes — using the French acronym AIN.

The IOC and Bach also urged excluding Russia from sports when the war started days after the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Games, then eased their position through last year as qualifying events for Paris approached.

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