#TrackSochi: Tracking the Olympics’ Growth…Sort of


Here we are: about 70% through the Olympics. It’s too late to talk about the Opening Ceremonies, but too early to talk about medal count. So let’s give some thought to the growth of the Olympics. They have grown, right?

Most signs point to “yes”. You can see the red line below, that represents the number of Olympians in each Olympics. There were 464 world class athletes at the Games in 1924, up to over 2800 in 2014. That seems like clear year-over-year growth. In fact, it’s the kind of YoY growth most startups yearn for… except for 1940 and 1944 when the Winter Olympics were cancelled due to World War II.

What about number of events? That’s the blue line below, which also seems to indicate growth. In 1924 there were 16 disciplines. That’s up to 98 in 2014.


And what happened in 1994? Why were there Olympics in 1992 and 1994, but then not again until 1998? Seems like things were growing (Olympians, events, TV money) and there was a failed experiment to make the Olympics more frequent. Well, that’s all wrong. Even though the Olympics have added events and Olympians, the average number of Olympians per event has gone down — the Olympics are more exclusive. In 1924, there were an average of 33 Olympians per event. That number is down to 28 in 2014.

And 1994? Settle down — it wasn’t about money. It was the first and only Winter Olympics to be held two years after the last. And it was done so we could alternate the Summer and Winter Games every two years, which makes 1994 the first time in history the Summer and Winter games were held in separate years.

That’s #TrackSochi. Enjoy the last few days of the Olympics!