Olympics-Japan projected to improve medals tally by 50% - Gracenote

TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) - Host-nation Japan is projected to improve its medals haul at the Tokyo Olympics by 50% from the Rio de Janeiro Games, according to data analysts Gracenote.

Japan won a record-breaking 41 medals in Rio in 2016 and could increase that to 60, buoyed by gains from new and returning disciplines, including skateboarding, sport climbing and baseball, Gracenote said on Tuesday.

“Due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there is potential for the Tokyo Summer Games to be more unpredictable than normal,” Gracenote said, releasing its final ‘Virtual Medal Table’ before the start of the Games on Friday.

The United States was picked to top the table but its expected haul was cut to 96, compared to the 121 won five years ago.

Asian powerhouse China’s medal count was put at 66 but Gracenote said it might be a conservative projection due to a lack of data on the country’s athletes.

“Nearly 80% of the Chinese athletes ranked in the Virtual Medal Table top-8s have no results since the pandemic began and the forecast total may be underrating the country’s actual performance,” it said.

Russian athletes, who will be competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, were projected to come second in the table with 68 medals.

Britain was placed fifth with 52 medals, 15 fewer than it won in Rio. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)