Portion of infographic from the The Guardian. Download the PDF.

Those in the data community looking for new ways to express complex concepts might find this “Atlas of Olympic success”, visualized for the Guardian newspaper, to be a great example.

This graphic, by Paul Scruton, Kari Pedersen and John Burn-Murdoch answers the question: How do you show the thousands of medals (12,989 to be exact) which have been won at the Olympics without the interactivity of the web? You can download this as a PDF and print it out.


As a data scientist, I’m also drawn to see the underlying data and interactively visualize it myself.

I like to use Spotfire instead of PDF and Flash so I can take the data and mash it up with more data, such as the 2012 London Olympics Funding featured in another Guardian data visualization taken from what the Guardian describes as “All of our data journalism in one spreadsheet, which actually captures 1411 stories with 1145 spreadsheets. It makes my mouth water to work with their data. I wish we had the same thing in the United States!


So to carry out this example: (see my interactive dashboard) the data behind the infographic above shows the following:
  • 13 Olympic vignettes, such as “Mark Spitz won nine golds in the 1968 and 1972 Games, a feat unequaled in the pool until the emergence of Michael Phelps.”
  • Total medals by event and country (shown in the bar chart at the bottom of the infographic), showing the U.S. has the most with 56 medals in 100 meter freestyle swimming and the second most with 53 in the 100 meter track sprint.
  • The Top 10 countries with gold medals (see map) are the U.S. (930), Germany (400), Russian Federation (395) Great Britain (207), France (192), Italy (190), China (163), Hungary (159), Sweden (142), and Australia (131).
Then there’s the data relating to how much London 2012′s Olympic games will cost.

As the following suggests, pulling together publicly available data on Olympic funding is not as clean cut as one might hope. The Guardian says the £9bn figure that we have seen, is just the largest part of a complicated set of arrangements involving public and private finance, so they gathered all that data together in one place – to provide a definitive guide to this Olympic’s funding.

Digging a little deeper, we find data has been published by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – and what we know of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) – to piece together a detailed picture of funding and spending.


“The difference between LOCOG and the ODA is, as a LOCOG spokeswoman put it to the Guardian: “the ODA is building the theatre; we put on the show”.

The Guardian identified spending of around £11bn – which is essentially the government’s £9bn plus LOCOG’s published budget of £2bn. That’s the equivalent to what the Home Office, which funds police and security in the UK, spent in 2010-11.


For those who might be interested, here are some of the key spending numbers:
  • The single biggest item of spending has been preparing the Olympic park: at £1.822bn, it includes the local infrastructure, roads, cleaning up the site and powerlines
  • That’s followed by the venues, which cost £1.106bn, and the most expensive is the Olympic stadium at £428m
  • The cheapest venue is the basketball arena at only £4m
  • While security is budgeted at £533m – there’s another £475m budgeted to cover army, security services and police spending (that includes surface to air missiles on tower blocks)
  • Legacy specific funding -i .e. the money for making sure the park has a future once the games are over – is £296m for ‘park transformation’, to be spent by the London Legacy Development Corporation
You can slice and dice the 2012 London Olympics Funding data in my interactive dashboard for further insights.