Predicting which countries will top the medal table at Tokyo 2020 has been made even harder by the global pandemic.
Nielsen Gracenote, which released its final Virtual Medal Table on Tuesday, said there is potential for the results of the Games “to be more unpredictable than normal”.
The company uses available results data from key global and continental competitions since the 2016 Olympics to determine the podium finishes for each event.
The problem is that due to the pandemic nearly 80 percent of China’s athletes considered to be possible medal contenders have not competed since 2019. Nielsen Gracenote believes that could mean its forecast total for the country may be underrated.
As it stands, China is predicted to finish third in total medals and second only to the United States in gold medals.
The USA is expected to win the most medals overall for a seventh successive Summer Games. The total is expected to drop from 121 at Rio 2016 to 96 in Tokyo. Forty of the 96 are expected to be gold.
The Russian Olympic Committee, China and Japan are predicted for the next three positions, though if China’s performance is underrated then the order could change.
ROC is predicted to win 68 medals, China 66 and the host country 60. Should Japan reach that total, it would represent almost a 50 percent increase from Rio 2016, when Japan won a record-breaking 41 medals.
Great Britain, which finished third in Rio with 67 medals, is expected to drop to 52 this time. That would be good enough for a fifth place finish.
The rest of the top 10, as determined by total medals, is the Netherlands, France, Italy, Australia, and Germany.