USA wins Global Cup, Japan grabs historic second place

The USA was the top Basketball nation in 2021 - pict. by K. Johnson, Pixabay

The USA is officially the world’s best sporting nation of 2021, winning the Global Cup title for the 14th consecutive time since GSN records began in 2008.

Despite the pandemic-induced vagaries of the sporting calendar, a bane for our dedicated tracking team, 2021 has been as near a ‘normal’ sporting year as possible. The USA topped the Global Cup table with 7,329 points, when last year they won it with a mere 1,018 points. As befitting an Olympic year, a total of 133 countries scored GSN points in 2021 (from the USA in first place to Andorra in last), more than double last year’s total of 61.
The USA’s final victory had been in little doubt since the summer and its triumph at the Tokyo Olympics, but the race for the podium places was exceptionally tight this year. Japan claimed a historic second place in the Global Cup, the country’s best-ever finish and with the third-best point total of all time as a runner-up, winning 4,433 points and edging out France. The race between the two countries became red hot in October, when Japan overtook France, and was sealed in November when Japan earned key points at the Karate and Table Tennis World Championships.
Italy too had an exceptional year, finishing fourth overall – like Japan’s, the country’s best-ever Global Cup result – ahead of powerhouses like China, Germany and Great Britain. It was a good year for Spain too, eighth place being the country’s best result in the last five years, and the only top-10 finish.
As usual, the USA won the Global Cup by excelling in a staggering number of sports. It scored points in 57 sports, while Japan did so in 43 and France in a very respectable 50. The USA’s top three point-scoring sports in the year were Swimming, Basketball and Athletics. In all three, Team USA won the year’s sport ranking (ahead of Australia in Swimming, of France in Basketball and Kenya in Athletics), as well as winning both the men’s and women’s rankings.
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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.