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United States Barely Edges Out China For Most Gold Medals At Tokyo Olympics

After 17 days of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, the United States finished with the most medals won overall and the most gold medals, with its 39 golds just barely beating out China, which won 38.

On the last day of the Games, the U.S. women's volleyball team secured the 39th gold medal, beating out Brazil to win the country's first gold in the sport.

Team USA is taking home 113 medals. In addition to their gold medals, U.S. athletes won 41 silver and 33 bronze medals. China, which was also second in total medals won, is bringing home 88 medals, including 32 silver and 18 bronze.

U.S. women won 66 medals — more than half of the U.S. team's tally. According to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, if the American women were a separate country, they would have ranked fourth in the world in terms of how many Olympic medals they won.

The United States has won the most overall medals for seven consecutive Olympic games. But China won the most gold medals in 2008, when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics.

According to FiveThirtyEight's Olympic medal tracker, this year the U.S. finished with 16 fewer medals than the website's analysts had predicted. Chinese and Russian athletes over-achieved, according to FiveThirtyEight, winning 5 and 18 more medals, respectively, than expected.

Russian athletes, officially known as participants from the Russian Olympic Committee due to doping sanctions, had the third-highest medal count at 70. And Japan, the host country, won a record number of gold medals at this year's games with 27 golds.

Japan's greater success at the games was somewhat expected. Data shows athletes from the host country who are competing on their own turf win more medals and more gold medals compared to when they compete in Olympics away from home.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.