U.S., China predicted to top Tokyo Olympic medal standings six months out

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TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics open in exactly six months, and the United States and China are picked to finish 1-2 in the overall medal count and the gold-medal count.

That’s the easy part in a forecast done by Gracenote Sports about which countries will win the most Olympic medals. Gracenote supplies analysis for leagues around the world and has had a solid track record forecasting recent Olympics.

The United States and China are easy to handle. The tough part is figuring out how to deal with Russia.

Russia is facing a four-year Olympic ban for manipulating doping data. It has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with a ruling expected in several months.

The sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency forbid the use of the Russian team name, flag, or anthem. However, some Russian athletes are still expected to compete as neutrals — as they did in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Of course, no one knows how many.

All of this really fouls up Gracenote’s calculations.

First, a look at the United States and China with the Olympics opening on July 24.

Gracenote, which forecasts medals based on performances in major events since the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has the United States leading the overall medal count with 117, and the gold-medal count with 47.

China is picked to win 87 overall and 43 gold.

Russia is next with 66 overall and 25 gold, followed by host nation Japan with 65 overall and 30 gold.

Japan is expected to take advantage of the host-nation advantage, which happens at every Olympics. It won a national record of 41 overall medals four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, and 12 gold. Its medals return this time should be a vast improvement, partly due to success in new sports, or returning sports like baseball and softball.

Russia is the headache.

“It remains to be seen how many of the 66 medalists (from Russia) currently forecast by Gracenote will be allowed to compete,” Simon Gleave, the head of sports analysis at Gracenote, wrote in an analysis.

Of course, the absence of any potential Russian medal winner opens a chance for somebody else. Gracenote says the United States will benefit the most if no Russian athletes compete. Gracenote figures the United States would win nine more medals, and Italy would be next with a gain of six.

Gracenote’s prediction record is decent.

In Rio de Janeiro, Gracenote picked the order of the top three countries correctly, and picked eight of the top 10 medal-winning countries. In PyeongChang in 2018 it correctly picked Norway to win a record number of medals and finish ahead of No. 2 Germany.

It also picked the top four countries correctly in PyeongChang, and in the correct order. Its predictions for seven of the top 10 countries were within one or two medals of their final totals.

Following the United States, China, Russia, and Japan, the next six countries in Tokyo in the order of overall medals are predicted to be: Australia (44), Great Britain (42), Netherlands (41), France (37), Germany (35) and Italy (32).

The second 10: South Korea (26), Hungary (23), Canada (22), New Zealand (21), Brazil (21), Turkey (18), Spain (18), Poland (18), Ukraine (16), Kenya (15).

And the third 10: Sweden (14), Serbia (13), India (12), Cuba (11), Taiwan (11), Kazakhstan (11), North Korea (10), Georgia (10), Jamaica (10), Iran (9).

The countries with the largest improvement in overall medals are expected to be: Japan (24), Netherlands (22), China (17), Australia (15), Russia (11), India (10), Turkey (10), Taiwan (8), Hungary (8), South Korea (5), Hong Kong (5), Ukraine (5).

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MORE: What you need to know about the Tokyo Olympics, six months out

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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