Olympic medals or long life: what’s the bottom line?

Craig R Mitton, H Dele Davies and Cam R Donaldson
Med J Aust 2004; 180 (2): 71-73.


  • On a per capita basis, Australia spent more than seven times as much on its Sydney Olympic team as did Canada, to win four times as many medals.

  • Compared with Australia, Canada spent an additional amount per capita (standardised to the purchasing power parity rate at year 2000) of US$1605 per life-year gained on healthcare in 2000.

  • Neither country is “right” or “wrong” in making these funding choices, but they highlight the need for more explicit discussion about what is being spent, what is obtained for the given expenditure and what society actually values.

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  • Craig R Mitton1
  • H Dele Davies2
  • Cam R Donaldson3

  • 1 Division of Health Sciences, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
  • 3 School of Population and Health Sciences & Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, UK.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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