Tokyo 2020: The Olympic medal table that has Australia 3rd and New Zealand 25th

Tokyo 2020 has officially gone down as New Zealand's greatest ever Olympic Games, with our medal haul of 20 bettering the previous record of 18 from Rio 2016.

Our seven gold medals, six silvers and seven bronzes proved again that Aotearoa, a country of just 5 million in our own little corner of the world, could overcome the world's best.

We came 13th overall in medals won, equal on golds with the likes of Canada and Brazil and just behind France, Germany and Italy. On the per capita rankings we did even better, sitting fourth behind countries with tiny populations like San Marino, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

Tokyo 2020: The Olympic medal table that has Australia 3rd and New Zealand 25th
Photo credit: Medals Per Capita

But according to the Financial Times' alternative medals table, we only did slightly better than expected - and Australia, China, the Netherlands and the ROC all performed considerably better.

The controversial FT medals table ranks countries not by their medal haul, but by the difference between how many medals a country wins and how many they were expected to win.

As a result, New Zealand sits 25th in the world, having only received two more medals than we were expected to.

The ROC sits top of the rankings, having won 20 more than the 51 medals predicted, while the Netherlands, China and Italy all got 13-plus more medals than anticipated.

Our great trans-Tasman rivals Australia sit third in the FT list - their total of 46 medals 17 medals higher than had been predicted pre-Games.

Tokyo 2020: The Olympic medal table that has Australia 3rd and New Zealand 25th
Photo credit: Financial Times

Down the other end of the table, France was by far the worst-performing country in the world despite winning 33 medals - a total 19 medals fewer than predicted. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and South Africa also fell short of expectations.

The unconventional ranking system is based on an economic model produced by a team of labour economists ahead of Rio 2016 that sets a benchmark for assessing whether a country met, bettered or fell short of Olympic expectations.

The model is based on research that found "factors including medal hauls in past Games, population size and GDP per capita could explain roughly 95 percent of the difference between countries' final medal tallies".

"Previous research has also repeatedly shown that host nations - and countries preparing to hold subsequent Olympics - tend to out-perform those of similar size and wealth, as do nations with a recent history of having a planned economy," it said.

The research also found countries in which women have more equal economic opportunities send more female athletes to the Games, which results in greater opportunities to win medals.

Roughly half of all countries that participated at the Games didn't feature in the FT rankings as they didn't win a medal, but weren't expected to.

While New Zealand didn't perform well on these rankings, we did top another unconventional medal table for COVID-19 cases per gold medal - outperforming Australia in second with just 412 cases per gold to their 2099 per gold.