From the New York Times:
"...But Infostrada is not always the bearer of glad tidings. The Australians, to cite another example, have been losing medal-table momentum since staging the smash-hit Summer Games in Sydney in 2000.
“They have decreased step by step every Olympics in overall medals, and we are seeing that line is going further down,” Timmermans said.
The Australians won 58 medals, 16 of them gold, in Sydney and were fourth in the overall medal table. They were fourth again in Athens in 2004 with 49 medals and fifth in Beijing in 2008 with 46.
Australians continue to make sport a local and national priority, and from their small population base of about 20 million, they produce a remarkable number of top-flight athletes in a variety of sports. ..."[Link]
The Olympics features nothing but recreational sports yet the desire for a country to use those sports as a public relations activity to brand their country as "superior" or "so very boss" ultimately classifies the Olympics as a commercial.
I think there is something very powerful here. On face value all this is absurd and yet the countries carry on like it is a battle - a nation is great not by the athletes it creates but by it's ideas.
Take Japan for an example: Their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is nearly twice that of Russia and is more economically successful than any nation in the European Union. It has few resources than India or Russia but it has turned it's ideas and innovation into gold!
Ideas are a better investment than athletics.