The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics ends today after two weeks of competition. Postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo’s games prohibited
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics ends today after two weeks of competition.
Postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo’s games prohibited spectators as part of Japan’s state of emergency to combat the virus. Although spectator-less, the medals told a tale worthy of attention.
The US, which consistently leads the Summer Olympics in overall medal count, took home 36 gold medals while China took home 38 golds—the most of any country. US athletes did, however, earn the most medals overall with 108 to China’s 87. The first time that China claimed the top spot on the podium more times than the US was during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Olympic Games are close proxy to great power politics, and often an indicator of a country’s relative standing in the international pecking order. China’s performance this time solidifies China as a global sports powerhouse, an important metric of soft power. Short-term the Chinese Communist Party will likely use this win to demonstrate domestically and regionally its capability to lead Asia beyond traditional measures of influence. Medium-term, expect China to build on this narrative by investing in world class sports facilities and supporting infrastructure as the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics nears.
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