USA wins Global Cup 2020

The US won the women’s Team Pursuit at the 2020 World Track Cycling Championships - Pict.: Casey B. Gibson

The total number of GSN points awarded in the 2020 sporting year was 10,413, shared out among 62 countries.

In 2019, the points awarded were 68,647, shared out among 128 countries.

The numbers paint an eloquent picture of the impact the pandemic has had on this troubled year’s sporting calendar. Despite this impact, the Global Cup has once again been lifted by the USA, crowned as the world’s best sporting nation in 2020 - the 13th consecutive time the USA has topped the Global Cup ranking since GSN records began in 2008.
Until the end of March, the sporting year played out almost normally, though the pandemic’s first effects were already being felt. In the first three months of this year, only 6,619 points were awarded, as opposed to 12,951 in the first three months of 2019. Eventually, they turned out to account for over 63% of the year’s total points, as opposed to 18.8%, as the points scored in January to March did in 2019.
Unsurprisingly, the final Global Cup table for 2020 includes three newcomers (Austria in ninth place, Switzerland in fifth, and Norway in the runner-up spot) whose Snow & Ice sports prowess gave them an early boost in the ranking – of Norway’s 788 points this year, only 5 (five) were won after March, at the Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships in September.
The USA picked up speed in the late spring, after a slow start. At the end of March, Norway topped the Global Cup table with an 11.8% share of the points, while the USA was sixth with 6.2%. But then the USA bagged 16.0% of the points awarded from April onwards, leading Great Britain, France, Australia and Ethiopia in the ranking for April to December, and deservedly claiming top spot in the Global Cup.
The USA won Golf and Tennis among the 22 sports for which GSN recorded results this year, a mere quarter of the over 80 sports regularly tracked. For only the second time in GSN history, the USA didn’t win both the men’s and women’s Global Cup rankings: the US ladies did take top spot in the gender ranking ahead of Germany and Italy, but Norway topped the men’s leaderboard, ahead of joint runners-up France and the USA.
This year’s Global Cup top 10 features three newcomers, and a few notable absentees. China first and foremost, only 25th in the final ranking after finishing third in 2019. Japan and Australia are also out of the top 10, and so is Great Britain, fourth in 2019 and 11th this year. The Netherlands instead retained their place in the world sporting elite, finishing eighth and making the Global Cup top 10 for the third year in succession. The much-reduced calendar may have helped, but the Netherlands won four sports this year, the most by any single nation, staking a legitimate claim as one of the world’s emerging sporting powers.
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Greatest Sporting Nation is a ranking of countries based on their performance in top-level international tournaments in sports in which there is genuine global competition. Countries (national teams and/or individual athletes) score Qualifying Points by finishing in the top eight places in Qualifying Events.
These Qualifying Points are then weighted to produce GSN Points, based on a formula that takes into account individual vs team sports, the sport’s participation (number of countries) and the frequency (annual/biennial/quadrennial) of the tournaments.
The Country scoring the most Points in a calendar year wins the Global Cup for that year. The country that scores the most points relative to its population wins the Per Capita Cup. For a more detailed explanation, please refer to the ‘How It Works’ section on the site.