The United States will be the most successful nation at Rio 2016 according to a virtual medal table published today by Infostrada Sports to mark 500 days to go until the Olympic Games are due to start.
The Netherlands-based company, which offers unique data and media services to the sports industry, has predicted that the US will collate a total of 97 medals - 47 gold, 21 silver and 29 bronze, followed by China with 76 - 28 gold, 28 silver and 20 bronze - and Russia - 25 gold, 25 silver and 24 bronze.
Meanwhile, it has been projected that hosts Brazil will achieve their best ever medal tally of 27 - 10 gold, 14 silver and three bronze - placing them in eighth position on the overall table ahead of historically strong Olympic nations such as Japan, Hungary and Italy.
If the predictions are correct, the US will fall seven medals short of their tally at London 2012, while China's haul would be their lowest since Athens 2004.
It has also been forecast that US women will achieve more than 50 per cent of the National Olympic Committee's gold medals, a feat first achieved at London 2012, and that around half of US medals will come from swimming and athletics.
Swimmers Missy Franklin, Kate Ledecky and Michaeal Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles, have been touted as the most likely multiple medallists in individual events.
China's estimated gold medal total of 28 would bring them back to the level achieved at Sydney 2000, while Russia are predicted to regain third sport in the gold medal stakes from Great Britain, despite the virtual medal table suggesting fewer medals overall compared to London 2012.
Infostrada Sports developed the first virtual medal table in the build-up to London 2012, with The Times publishing a monthly update from the back end of 2010 right through to the Games.
The table is based on top-class events around the globe, including World Championships and World Cup cycles, dating back to the previous Olympic Games.
Events are ranked in importance with medal counts determined by the points accumulated by athletes.
The final virtual medal table for London 2012 predicted that Great Britain would win 67 medals, only two more than they actually did.
Britain are predicted to slip four places in the overall medals table, below Australia for the first time since Athens 2004 and also behind European rivals Germany and France.
They are projected to win a total of 45 medals, only 10 of them gold, a big drop from the 29 they claimed at London 2012.
Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Infostrada Sports, said it has not been decided yet how often the latest edition of the virtual medal table will be updated but insists it will be on a "regular" basis.
"We're constantly developing the model," he told insidethegames.
"This is what we have now but I would suspect that in a few years' time, we will have something that is more sophisticated and perhaps more accurate - as accurate as you can get with the unpredictability of sport."
Gleave says the aim of the virtual medal table is effectively to create discussion about what it predicts.
"Lots of experts make predictions on the Olympic Games from their own points of view," he added.
"At the moment, we make this purely from data.
"I think potentially there's a lot to be said for looking at the data specifically as an ends towards what's likely to happen.
"And that's another voice added to the voices of experts that are out there."
Rio 2016 is scheduled to take place from August 5 until 21.
The Australian Olympic Committee joined in the "500 days to go" celebrations with Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller and women's rugby sevens team members Emilee Cherry, Sharni Williams and Shannon Parry posing for a photo with mascot Boxing Kangeroo.
To view the full medal table, click here.
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