EU 'Beat' U.S. and China in the Olympics
The 27 member states of the EU when counted together won 87 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, dwarfing the individual tallies of China with 51 and the US with 36, as the games closed on Sunday (24 August).
The figures—compiled as a mini-political project by think-tank the Young European Federalists and just for fun by German PR firm Euro-Informationen—also show the EU with 280 medals in total, ahead of China (100) and the US (110).
"The European Union therefore takes the leading position. It's a victory for sport and for the fundamental and common values of the people of the union," French president Nicolas Sarkozy—currently chairing the EU—said.
Mr Sarkozy's statement began by congratulating the French national team first, calling his athletes "the pride of the French people," with the EU message stuck on at the end of his letter as an afterthought.
France won seven golds, but the UK came in as the top European Union country with 23. Germany and Italy also beat France.
"The comparison [of the EU against China or the US] is of course not entirely fair," Euro-Informationen said, explaining that the Olympic system of allocating starting positions by individual country gives the imaginary EU team "a better chance."
Meanwhile, the British press has attacked an open letter written by the Young European Federalists to Mr Sarkozy on 8 July, which had asked for support for a future "EU Olympic Team" to soothe European nationalist sentiments.
"It is frankly bonkers," UK shadow Europe minister Mark Francois told the Press Association, urging the think-tank's EU funding to be revoked. "These people want to create a single country called Europe," eurosceptic MEP Nigel Farage said in the Daily Express.
China on Show
The Beijing games drew record high TV-viewing figures among US networks and were seen by most of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, making them "likely" the most widely-watched in history, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
Chinese authorities allowed none of the 77 requests to hold political protests during the two-week sporting event, however, with Tibet leader-in-exile the Dalai Lama telling French press that Chinese troops shot at Tibetan protesters while the games were on.
"The IOC and the Olympic Games cannot force changes on sovereign nations or solve all the ills of the world," IOC president Jacques Rogge told Reuters.