614 gold medals will be handed out at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, but how much are they worth?


And almost every other worldwide sporting event.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend one of the Athletics sessions at the London 2012 games.

I’m writing this post as the Olympics kick off in Tokyo. 8 hours behind London, I find myself waking up to news of Gold medals. It’s one of those periods where you need to shut off from any form of media to avoid spoilers.

Sadly, spectators are banned from the games this year. Whilst I fully understand the decision, and agree with it, my chances of spending part of the summer in Tokyo were again dashed, as they were in 2020. Maybe next year…

Even without spectators, the Olympics requires a full scale logistics effort to get all teams to Japan. In this months post, I decided to look at what a herculean effort is required.


I used IOC data for events and information about medals.

Note for team events, I’ve counted team size as players on the field (e.g. football = 11 players). The actual team size to include substitutes is not considered in this post, even though these team members will be eligible for medals.

All prices (flights and materials cost) use prices correct on July 31st 2021.


Count of athletes at Tokyo 2020 by team

Count of athletes at Tokyo 2020 by team

Download chart.

Rank (count athletes) Team Count of athletes
10 ROC 328
9 Italy 372
8 Great Britain 376
7 Canada 381
6 France 398
5 China 406
4 Germany 425
3 Australia 478
2 Japan 552
1 United States 613

Download full table.

At this years Olympics, 11,313 athletes will be competing.

Many athletes share rooms in the Olympic village, which leaves a requirement for at least 5,657 athlete rooms.

Assuming 3 meals per day (but likely probably much more) that’s 33,939 servings per day. If all athletes are there for 17 days (duration of Olympic event calendar), that’s a total of 576,963 meals.

Estimated cost of flying athletes to Tokyo 2020

Skyscanner London to Tokyo July 2022

A quick look at direct flights from London (LHR) to Tokyo (HND) in summer 2022 (1st July – 14th July), shows the cheapest economy ticket at £779 from British Airways. Let’s assume all GBR athletes booked in advance and flew this ticket in 2021, and ignoring training staff and equipment (how do you get horses to the Olympics?), gives a total transport cost of £292,904 (376*£779) for GBR.

Assuming the same average ticket cost for all athletes (minus Japan) gives a total of £8,382,819 (10,761*£779) of flight costs!

At this Olympics many athletes are required to fly home immediately after competing, meaning that all of these tickets will need to be made flexible at additional cost… or perhaps being an Olympian waives change fees?

Count events at 2020 Olympics by discipline

Count events at 2020 Olympics by discipline

Download chart.

Rank (count events) Sport (Discipline) Body Count events 2020
9 Canoe/kayak (sprint) ICF 12
9 Track cycling UCI 12
9 Freestyle wrestling UWW 12
9 Fencing FIE 12
8 Boxing AIBA 13
5 Artistic FIG 14
5 Rowing FISA 14
5 Weightlifting IWF 14
3 Judo IJF 15
3 Shooting ISSF 15
2 Swimming FINA 35
1 Athletics WAthle 48

Download full table.

Athletics (48) and swimming (35) events have over twice as many events as any other discipline (male and female events are counted individually). Surprisingly, shooting (15), judo (15) and weightlifting (14) are joint 3rd and 5th by count of events.

In total there are 50 sports, across 20 disciplines, representing 339 events in total. This is five more sports and 18 new events compared to Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Count of events by gender at Tokyo 2020

Count of events by gender at Tokyo 2020

Download chart.

Type Count of events
Mens events 165
Womens events 156
Mixed events 18

In the 1896 Athens games there were no women’s events. How far we’ve come.

In Rio 2016 there were 161 men’s events and 145 women’s events, so the balancing of genders in 2020 is getting closer to even.

It’s important to remember as much as male only events still occur, some events still remain women only too, like synchronized swimming.

There are also 18 mixed events at this years games, 9 more than at Rio 2016.

Medals awarded

Although there are 339 medal events, many more medals are awarded. This is due to the fact that some events are team based (4 x 100m sprint, etc.) where each participant gets a medal.

To make things even more complex, some teams rotate athletes during qualification phases. Athletes that take part in qualification, but do not compete in the final, are also still eligible for a medal.

Considering only the number of players on the field (e.g. 11 players for football) there would be a total of 614 athletes eligible for medals, or 1,842 medals total (614 x (1 gold + 1 silver + 1 bronze)).

Roughly, 1 in every 7 athletes who compete will win a medal (11,313 athletes /1842 medals).

Cost of medals

In April 2017, the Tokyo Olympic Medal Project started. The goal: to salvage 100% of the metals required to make the approximately 5,000 Olympic medals from unwanted electronic devices.

In total, the government collected several million tonnes of equipment, and extracted 32 kilograms of gold, 3500 kilograms of silver and 2200 kilograms of copper and zinc for the bronze medals.

In all, it took 78,985 tons of donated devices, including approximately 6.21 million mobile phones.

  • Gold medals have a mass of 556 grams (1.2% gold, 98.8% silver)
  • Silver medals have a mass of 550 grams (100% silver)
  • Bronze medals have a mass of 450 grams (95% copper, 5% zinc)

At the time of writing rough wholesale prices are as as follow;

  • 1g of gold = £42.03
  • 1g of silver = £0.59
  • 1g of copper = £0.006
  • 1g of zinc = £0.002

So the team collected £1,344,960.00 worth of gold, £2,065,000.00 of silver and £12,760.00 of copper and zinc (based on material composition of bronze medal below).

The total collected considers all medals, including those for the Paralympics.

Looking again at the Olympics only…

Cost per medal

Gold Silver Bronze
Mass (g) 556 550 450
Total material cost GBP £604.53 £324.50 £2.61

You can see the inclusion of just 6g of gold makes the gold medal almost twice as expensive in materials cost than the silver. Bronze medals look like a bargain.

Cost of all medals

Total cost of medals at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Download chart.

Considering the 1,842 medals awarded (614 of each type) gives a total value of medals of £575,230.62. Ignoring the costs to recycle the materials, the organisers managed to save some money here.

Medals sold at auction

The most expensive Olympic gold ever is the iconic medal won by African American sprinter Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany, sold at an auction in 2013 for $1.5m.

Ukrainian boxer Waldimir Klitschko sold his 1996 boxing gold medal for $1m in 2012 and donated the proceeds to charity.


Materials costs considered wholesale market costs of materials. Seeing as all materials were donated, a better calculation for cost to produce (vs. value) would look at recycling costs. Similarly, it would also be interesting to consider the consumer value of materials, which will be much higher than wholesale.

Flight costs were also calculated in a very rough way. It would be much more accurate to consider ticket costs from each country. With numbers from the IOC (including auxiliary team staff) I could come up with a much more thorough analysis of total people travelling to the games in each team too.

I’d also like to include the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games, not considered in this analysis.


At this years Olympics, 11,313 athletes will be competing in 339 events. In total, 1,842 medals will be awarded with a rough value of £575,230!


Olympic 2020 data sources

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The Elevator Ride that Costs $0.46 Per Floor

A few years ago I wrote about the costs to climb the world’s highest mountains.

Many man-made mountains, or skyscrapers as most people call them, can also be climbed for price.

In many cities the top attractions are tickets to visit the viewing floors of their highest buildings.

It got me thinking, which of the world’s tallest building that are open to the public offer the best ticket price to height value for visiting their viewing decks?


In order to make the comparison as simple as possible I chose the cheapest possible viewing deck ticket price available for an adult in February 2021 direct from each building’s official ticket site.

Prices were converted to local currency into USD using the exchange rate on 19 February provided by XE.com.


Highest Viewing Decks

RANK (HEIGHT) NAME CITY FLOORS Height (m) Public Viewing Floor
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai 163 828 TRUE
2 Shanghai Tower Shanghai 128 632 TRUE
3 Makkah Royal Clock Tower Mecca 120 601 FALSE
4 Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen 115 599.1 TRUE
5 Lotte World Tower Seoul 123 554.5 TRUE
6 One World Trade Center New York City 94 541.3 TRUE
7 Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre Guangzhou 111 530 FALSE
7 Tianjin CTF Finance Centre Tianjin 97 530 FALSE
9 CITIC Tower Beijing 109 527.7 FALSE
10 TAIPEI 101 Taipei 101 508 TRUE
11 Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai 101 492 TRUE
12 International Commerce Centre Hong Kong 108 484 TRUE
13 Central Park Tower New York City 98 472.4 FALSE
14 Lakhta Center St. Petersburg 87 462 FALSE
15 Vincom Landmark 81 Ho Chi Minh City 81 461.2 TRUE
16 Changsha IFS Tower T1 Changsha 94 452.1 FALSE
17 Petronas Twin Tower 1 Kuala Lumpur 88 451.9 TRUE
17 Petronas Twin Tower 2 Kuala Lumpur 88 451.9 TRUE
19 Suzhou IFS Suzhou 95 450 FALSE

Full table.

11 of the top 20 have public observation decks (I am considering the Petronas Twin Towers as one building).

Most expensive ticket

RANK (HEIGHT) NAME CITY Cost (USD) Viewing gallery floor
10 TAIPEI 101 Taipei $6.93 101
15 Vincom Landmark 81 Ho Chi Minh City $11.85 81
5 Lotte World Tower Seoul $16.00 123
17 Petronas Twin Tower 1 Kuala Lumpur $19.47 86
17 Petronas Twin Tower 2 Kuala Lumpur $19.47 86
12 International Commerce Centre Hong Kong $22.92 100
11 Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai $27.65 100
2 Shanghai Tower Shanghai $27.74 118
4 Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen $29.00 116
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai $40.57 160
6 One World Trade Center New York City $43.00 94

Full table.
Ticket Prices by Worlds Highest Skyscraper Observation Decks

Download chart.

Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan charges less than $7 USD to visit the observation deck, over 7 times cheaper than One World Trade Center in New York City, United States ($43) (and 7 floors higher).

Best value ticket (by floor)

RANK (HEIGHT) NAME CITY Mts/floors Cost USD p/floor
10 TAIPEI 101 Taipei 5.03 $0.07
5 Lotte World Tower Seoul 4.51 $0.13
15 Vincom Landmark 81 Ho Chi Minh City 5.69 $0.15
17 Petronas Twin Tower 1 Kuala Lumpur 5.14 $0.23
17 Petronas Twin Tower 2 Kuala Lumpur 5.14 $0.23
12 International Commerce Centre Hong Kong 4.48 $0.23
2 Shanghai Tower Shanghai 4.94 $0.24
4 Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen 5.21 $0.25
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai 5.08 $0.25
11 Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai 4.87 $0.28
6 One World Trade Center New York City 5.76 $0.46

Full table.

Ticket Prices per floor by Worlds Highest Skyscraper Observation Decks

Download chart.

I divided the ticket cost by the floor number of each building’s viewing deck. As you climb in the elevators, you’re paying $0.07 USD per floor at Taipei 101. Whilst the Burj Khalifa had the second highest ticket cost ($40.57), it is actually fairly reasonably priced for the number of floors you climb ($0.25 p/floor).

Best value ticket (by height)

RANK (HEIGHT) NAME CITY Est viewing gallery height (m) Cost USD p/m
10 TAIPEI 101 Taipei 508 $0.01
15 Vincom Landmark 81 Ho Chi Minh City 461 $0.03
5 Lotte World Tower Seoul 555 $0.03
17 Petronas Twin Tower 1 Kuala Lumpur 442 $0.04
17 Petronas Twin Tower 2 Kuala Lumpur 442 $0.04
2 Shanghai Tower Shanghai 583 $0.05
4 Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen 604 $0.05
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai 813 $0.05
12 International Commerce Centre Hong Kong 448 $0.05
11 Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai 487 $0.06
6 One World Trade Center New York City 541 $0.08

Full table.

Ticket Prices per meter by Worlds Highest Skyscraper Observation Decks

Download chart.

Floor heights differ between buildings, so I divided the total building height by number of floors to get an average floor height. This ranged from 4.51 meters in the Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea to 5.76 meters in One World Trade Center in New York City, United States.

Unsurprisingly One World Trade Center was the most expensive again, at $0.08 per meter climbed.

Much cheaper than Mount Everest ($7.35 p/m).


My estimation of the average floor height in each building was calculated in a very crude way, because the height each tower extends beyond its highest floor will skew my figures. It would be good to get measurements of exactly how high each viewing deck is for a more accurate analysis.


Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan offers the best value for money when comparing ticket prices for viewing decks in the worlds tallest buildings.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Ski Resort Budgeting: The £8 Coffee

Ski season is almost here. Get saving…

After buying your flights, accommodation and lift pass, don’t forget you’ll be eating and drinking a lot.

How much will all those calories cost you?

I’m glad you asked…


Every year the Post Office (UK) compiles their Ski Resort Report. For this post I used the latest 2018 edition.

Lunch prices are based on two courses (main course and dessert) for a family of four, excluding drinks.

Individual drink items are calculated on a per person basis.


The morning coffee

Coffee per person by ski resort (2018)

Download chart.

La Thuile in Italy offers the cheapest daily coffee at just £0.90 — that’s over two thirds cheaper than the price of a coffee from a generic London coffee shop.

Overall the mean price for a large coffee on the slope is £2.91.

Though you’ve probably already gasped at the far right of the chart. Yes, I double checked. A large coffee in the Norwegian resort of Trysil does cost an astounding £8.86 (thanks, unfriendly exchange rates!). Over a 6 day holiday that equals a spend of £53.04 on a daily coffee.

An alternative caffeine hit

Coke per person by ski resort (2018)

Download chart.

Want something sweeter. A Coke could be the slightly cheaper option. The mean price of a small Coke across all resorts is £2.88.

The cheapest small Coke can be found in the Bulgarian resort of Bansko (£0.77), and the most expensive… Yes, it’s Trysil again, where a a Coke costs the same as a coffee (£8.86),


Lunch per person by ski resort (2018)

Download chart.

Lunch in a Trysil restaurant is expensive, as expected, at £32.40 per person (almost £130 for a family of 4). Interestingly though, Trysil is not significantly more expensive than other resorts for lunch, as it is with drinks.

In most major European resorts lunch will set you back around £27 per person.

The average restaurant lunch (two courses) across all resorts costs £20.11.

Wine or beer?

Drink price by ski resort (2018)

Download chart.

No surprises here, Bansko comes out cheapest where a 25cl beer will cost you £1.35.

A glass of wine (50cl) on the other hand ranges from £1.88 (Bansko) to almost £18 (Trysil).

In almost all European resorts, beer is cheaper than wine. In North American resorts its the opposite.

On average, an alcoholic drink will cost you £4.80, with the major European resorts being the most expensive. Here you’re looking at spending between £3.50 and £4.00 on a beer, and £6 to £9 for a glass of wine.


The Post Office report provides general guidance of prices, but it is clear the data collection (or at least transparency as to how it was collected) could be improved to provide a more in depth analysis.


Take a pack lunch. The average cost of lunch at European and American ski resorts is £20.11.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The £520 Million ATOL Refund Bill. Can the UK CAA Cover It?

In the UK, travel agents must pay £2.50 into the ATOL scheme for each person they book on a package holiday.

If a travel business with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects consumers who had booked holidays with the firm. It will support consumers currently abroad and provide financial reimbursement for the cost of replacing parts of an ATOL protected package.

ATOL Website

If you’re in the UK, you will be well aware of the ATOL scheme (operated by the UK CAA) by now after the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The mammoth repatriation effort, dubbed Operation Matterhorn (aka the largest in peacetime history), is to bring an estimated 150,000 people back to the UK.

Government figures show that the cost of reimbursing holidaymakers who lost future bookings stands at £420 million.

This is in addition to an expected £100 million bill to return Thomas Cook passengers to Britain and tens of millions owed to hotels overseas.

Thomas Cook Group Website

Though after years as one of the leading travel agents in Europe, as the Thomas Cook Group sites still boasts (parent company of Thomas Cook UK), surely the passenger ATOL contributions must cover the mounting bills?


Using direct and indirect data sources, I was able to obtain numbers to make some “informed estimations”.

I am using figures from Thomas Cook Airlines, as I was unable to find exact package holiday passenger numbers. This is an important distinction, as Thomas Cook Airlines also carry passengers not covered under ATOL protection (e.g. those who booked flights only). As a result, many of the figures quoted will be overestimates.

Similarly, I also use figures from the Office of National Statistics that report total UK holidays by year to work out potential ATOL contributions.

ATOL contributions in this post are assumed to be fixed at £2.50 per passenger.


Thomas Cook ATOL Contributions by Year

Thomas Cook Airlines Passenger Volume and Estimated ATOL contributions (2009 - 2018)

Download chart.

Year Pax (TC airlines) ATOL contribution GBP
2009 8,202,534 20,506,335
2010 8,120,815 20,302,038
2011 7,969,569 19,923,923
2012 6,783,661 16,959,153
2013 6,043,480 15,108,700
2014 6,043,480 15,108,700
2015 6,395,623 15,989,058
2016 6,623,546 16,558,865
2017 7,319,546 18,298,865
2018 8,090,208 20,225,520

Full table.

Since 2013 Thomas Cook Airlines has been carrying an increasing number of passengers. Over 2 million more in 2018 than in 2013 (25% increase).

Assuming all these passengers were covered under ATOL protection (see methodology), Thomas Cook paid over £20.2 million to the scheme in 2018. Using the same logic, over the period between 2009 and 2018 Thomas Cook airlines paid £179 million into the scheme.

Let’s assume now that only 50% of Thomas Cook airline passengers paid in to the scheme. In 2018 they would have contributed just over £10 million, and since 2009, about £90 million.

This number is still way short of the estimated £520 million final bill, as quoted above.

Potential Total Travel Agents ATOL Contributions by Year

UK Holiday Passengers and Potential ATOL contributions GBP (1998 - 2018)

Download chart.

Year UK Holiday Passengers ATOL Potential ATOL contributions GBP @100% paid UK Holiday Passengers ATOL GBP @50% paid
1998 32,306,000 80,765,000 40,382,500
1999 35,023,000 87,557,500 43,778,750
2000 36,685,000 91,712,500 45,856,250
2001 38,670,000 96,675,000 48,337,500
2002 39,902,000 99,755,000 49,877,500
2003 41,197,000 102,992,500 51,496,250
2004 42,912,000 107,280,000 53,640,000
2005 44,175,000 110,437,500 55,218,750
2006 45,287,000 113,217,500 56,608,750
2007 45,437,000 113,592,500 56,796,250
2008 45,531,000 113,827,500 56,913,750
2009 38,492,000 96,230,000 48,115,000
2010 36,422,000 91,055,000 45,527,500
2011 36,819,000 92,047,500 46,023,750
2012 36,173,000 90,432,500 45,216,250
2013 37,149,000 92,872,500 46,436,250
2014 38,519,000 96,297,500 48,148,750
2015 42,150,000 105,375,000 52,687,500
2016 45,020,000 112,550,000 56,275,000
2017 46,636,000 116,590,000 58,295,000
2018 47,042,000 117,605,000 58,802,500

Full table.

Assuming all UK holiday makers contributed towards ATOL, the scheme would have raised £117.6 million in 2018 (47 million pax). If so, since 1998 the scheme has raised £2.13 billion (from 851.5 million passengers). ATOL stated in 1973.

Let’s assume only 50% of holiday makers were required to pay into the scheme, it would still have generated a pot of over £1 billion (ignoring other times passengers have been compensated by ATOL, see below).

We have enough to cover the £520 million now…

Repaying Thomas Cook Passengers

Thomas Cook Impact on ATOL Contributions Pot 1998-2018

Download chart.

Assuming the 50% of holiday makers since 1998 were required to pay into the scheme (£1 billion), the £520 million Thomas Cook bill would require 48.9% of the schemes contributions to refund passengers.

Thomas Cook UK are the largest agency or airline to go into liquidation, by quite some margin.

Though a number of other airlines — FlyBMI, Cobalt, Monarch, etc — are likely to have impacted passengers under ATOL protection. ATOL refunds for the collapse of Monarch added up to £21 million.

Of course, many smaller agencies will have ceased trading, requiring ATOL refunds for passengers too.

The question is, has ATOL paid out more than £520 million since 1998. I’m not so sure…


As indicated in the methodology section (and lack of a definitive answer to the question), there are lots of estimations in this post.

To improve the accuracy of the figures estimated, I would need ATOL contribution figures by agency and all payouts over the period the organisation has been operating.


It is very likely that the final Thomas Cook will significantly impact the balance sheet of the ATOL protection scheme. It could easily exceed over 50% of all ATOL contributions for the last 20 years.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Where Should I Visit When I’m In [Country]?

Big cities have offer a seemingly endless lists of things to do and places to spend  money. London has enough attractions to keep you busy for 16 years.

When you’re visiting a new city for a few days compromises must be made. Nowadays many of us turn to TripAdvisor to help us narrow down the places to visit based on recommendations from fellow travellers.

After realising the most popular attraction to visit in the UK (based on TripAdvisor ratings) is a Harry Potter studio tour, yes you read that correctly, I began to wonder what most attracts visitors to other countries.


The United Nations recognised 249 countries. Using this list I turned to Tripadvisor to find the most popular attraction (“things to do”) in each of the countries. In total there was attraction data for 242 countries.


Most popular attractions by type (2018)


Interactive chart.

Natural attractions are by far the most popular, from waterfalls to national parks.

Most popular attractions type by region (2018)


Interactive chart.

Looking deeper, natural attractions are the most popular in African, American and Oceanic countries. Asia’s and Europe’s rich historical past leaves historic attractions the most popular in these regions, especially Europe.

Most popular attractions by country (2018)


Interactive chart.

The natural category includes places like Canada’s Niagara Falls and Norway’s Geiranger Fjord. Meanwhile, other well known historic attractions like China’s Great Wall make the list.

Although not all of the most popular attractions in each country are what you might expect. As noted, the United Kingdom’s most popular attraction is a Harry Potter Studio tour, not one of the historic buildings I was expecting.

My favourite attraction, and now on my bucket list, is the “Door to Hell” Gas Deposit, the most popular attraction in Turkmenistan.


Clearly TripAdvisor ratings are one way to measure popularity. A more comprehensive analysis might consider other metrics including footfall, for example.


Natural attractions are the most popular for visiting tourists.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

The World Cup 2018 Numbers: Download the Dataset

The group stages are over, onto the finals! If you’re anything like me, the World Cup has occupied a significant proportion of your free time over the last two weeks.

TV coverage has seen pundits highlight interesting (and questionable) match statistics during games; kilometers covered by players in a game (I’d love to get my hands on that data) to the all-time top scorers.

This, of course, inspired me to collate a data set of my own for analysis to look at some of the numbers behind the World Cup (we already know Russian cities have the most museums for fans to visit between games)…




Download chart.

There are 32 teams from 6 continents (only Antarctica is not represented — they don’t have a team).



Download chart.

Excluding management and those in team support roles, for every one player in the Iceland squad there are 13,431 people in the Icelandic population. One pundit noted that most people have a second-degree connection that links them to an Icelandic player! Brazil has the biggest pool of talent to choose from with one player per 8.75 million people.



Download chart.

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, where the final will be held, is by far the largest stadium with a capacity of 81,000. The average capacity of all stadiums is 48,427. Many of the stadiums are home to second division Russian teams including the Fisht Stadium, Sochi (47,700 capacity), Volgograd Arena, Volgograd (45,568), Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium (45,331), and the Mordovia Arena, Saransk (44,442) — larger than many English Premier League grounds.


Download chart.

The median age of all the World Cup stadiums is about one year (median first opened date is 2017.5). Only two were opened prior to 2013; the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (opened 1956, redeveloped for 2018 World Cup) and Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg (1953).


Download chart.

Costing a rumoured $1.5 billion USD to build, the St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg hosting 7 games works out to cost $214.3 million per game. The average cost per game across all 12 stadiums and 64 games is $79.9 million.

The total spent on stadiums for the 2018 World Cup alone (remember all but one were opened or refurbished in the last 5 years) is a staggering $5.3 billion dollars!


Download chart.

Looking at costs in more details, based on the number of games a stadium will host and each stadiums capacity, each seat at the St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg works out to cost $3,145.06 (hosting 7 games at a maximum capacity of 68,134). The Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow is the most cost effective costing $705.42 per seat (7 games / capacity 81,006) — a figure still well below average ticket costs as we’ll see below…

Ticket Prices


Download chart.

Tickets to the World Cup 2018 range from $22.40 to $1094.28. Russian residents receive a healthy discounts on tickets, meaning they could follow a team to the final (7 games) for just $370.92 (it would cost them slightly more to watch Russia because the opening game has a premium ticket cost). Those wanting the best category of ticket would pay $3,072.96 to watch their team make it all the way to the final (assuming they do!).



Download chart.

Whilst I’m lying on my sofa, players are running over 8 kilometers per game in searing heat. The average daily highs across all stadiums is 24°C with lows of 15°C. Surprisingly, there is an 50% chance of rain daily, on average. In Ekaterinburg, the likelihood is as high as 66%.


With more time, I’d like to explore the distances teams have to travel between stadiums and their training sites.


via: Chapman Freeborn 

Chapman Freeborn, an aircraft charter company, have conducted such an analysis for the group games. They found Egypt covered 7,316 miles travelling to their group games. Compare that to Colombia who travelled just 1,158 miles.

As noted at the start of this post, I would also like to obtain in-game statistics from FIFA to perform a more micro analysis of games.


The World Cup is expensive; the total cost of stadiums hosting the 2018 World Cup is a staggering $5.3 billion dollars!

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Getting the Best Piste for Your Money

We’re halfway through the 2017-18 ski season in the Northern Hemisphere and the mountains are calling (in part to help shed some of the extra Christmas kilograms I might have gained).

One thing that’s clear for those looking at taking some time off on the slopes; skiing is a costly sport. However, with lift tickets nearing the €200 mark for a day on the slopes, some resorts (predominately those in the United States) are taking that expense to an entirely new level.

How do you measure value for money at a ski resort?

Snow quality is definitely important. So is nightlife (for us Brits, anyway). Though I decided to take a fully quantitate approach measuring three different metrics; value of lift pass based on skiable area, value of lift pass based on vertical elevation, and finally the piste to lift ratio.


Skiresort.info has compiled a regularly updated list of almost 5500 ski resorts around the world. They details key information about each resort, from piste lengths by difficulty to the price of a lift pass.

Using this dataset I extracted data from the top 50 largest resorts by piste length (between 600 and 136 kilometres) for the analysis below.


Lift pass prices

Rank lift pass cost Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR)
1 Beaver Creek North America €157.00
2 Snowmass North America €141.00
2 Vail North America €141.00
4 Steamboat North America €137.00
5 Breckenridge North America €136.00
6 Park City North America €121.00
7 Winter Park Resort North America €116.00
8 Big Sky Resort North America €112.00
9 Whistler Blackcomb North America €92.00
10 Zermatt/Breuil-Cervinia/Valtournenche – Matterhorn Europe €78.00

Full table.

The Beaver Creek lift pass is the most expensive by price in our list at €157. The cheapest day lift pass can be found in Espace Lumière – Pra Loup/Val d’Allos, France for only €39 with 180km of skiable pistes.

9 of the top 10 resorts by lift pass are located in the United States. At the other end of the scale, 8 of the top 10 cheapest resorts for daily lift passes can be found in France.

Lift pass value per piste kilometre

Les 3 Vallées has the largest skiable area in my top 50, 600km for a daily lift price of €52 though you’d be hard pressed to cover a tenth of that in a day.

Cost per skiable km by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

A lift pass, on average, costs €0.37 per skiable kilometre for the 50 resorts covered (€0.65 in US, €0.25 in Europe)

Cost per km rank Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Total piste Length (km) Cost per km
1 Les Portes du Soleil – Morzine/Avoriaz/Les Gets/Châtel/Morgins/Champéry Europe €52.00 580 €0.09
2 Les 3 Vallées – Val Thorens/Les Menuires/Méribel/Courchevel Europe €61.00 600 €0.10
3 Via Lattea – Sestriere/Sauze d’Oulx/San Sicario/Claviere/Montgenèvre Europe €48.00 400 €0.12
48 Steamboat North America €137.00 165 €0.83
49 Breckenridge North America €136.00 153 €0.89
50 Beaver Creek North America €157.00 150 €1.05

View full table.

The best value lift pass by available skiable area is Les Portes du Soleil, France where a day pass costs €52 and covers 580km (€0.09 per kilometre). In contrast, in Beaver Creek, North America a day pass will cost €157.00 covering only 150km of pistes (€1.05 per kilometre). Of course I’m sure there will be many off-piste hikers willing to put in some legwork to make up for this.

Lift pass value per vertical metre

The resorts in the Europe, on average, have more vertical descent than those in the US; 1553 metres versus 1144 metres (though the US resorts are located at a higher altitude; 3186 metres versus 2751 metres).Lift cost per vertical meter (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

To go from top to bottom of all 50 resorts on the list you’ll pay and average cost €0.05 per metre (lift pass / elevation change).

Rank elevation change cost per m Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Elevation change (m) Lift cost per vertical m
1 Vail North America €141.00 976 €0.14
1 Breckenridge North America €136.00 988 €0.14
50 Alpe d’Huez Europe €52.50 2205 €0.02
50 Les 2 Alpes Europe €50.00 2243 €0.02

Full table.

Using this metric, the cheapest resorts per vertical metre are Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez in France at €0.02 per metre.

The most expensive? All in North America. Breckenridge and Vail in the US have the highest cost per metre at €0.14

Ski area covered by each lift

Waiting for a lift is a real pain. In some resorts I’ve heard people standing in line for over an hour (I’m looking at you Chamonix). This led me to wonder; which resorts the best lift to piste ratio?

In Les Portes du Soleil, France, there are a whopping 170 lifts to cover the skiable area of 580km (each lift covers 3.41km). Lake Louise has just 7 lifts covering 139km of pistes (each lift covers 19.86km).

Ski area km per lift by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

On average, one lift exists for every 5.8 km in the 50 resorts covered, though there are outliers.

Rank ski area km per lift Resort Region Total piste Length (km) Ski lifts Ski area km per lift
1 Gröden (Val Gardena) Europe 175 79 2.22
2 Espace Diamant – Les Saisies/Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe/Praz sur Arly/Flumet/Crest-Voland Europe 192 79 2.43
3 La Plagne (Paradiski) Europe 225 91 2.47
48 Snowmass North America 237 17 13.94
49 Fernie North America 142 9 15.78
50 Lake Louise North America 139 7 19.86

View full table.

Gröden (Val Gardena), Italy, has almost 1 lift for every 2km of pistes. Lake Louise, ranked in last place for lift coverage, has just 1 lift for every 20km of pistes. Like value, North American resorts are, mostly, the worst for lift coverage.


Based on marked pistes, European resorts offer significantly better value for money (€0.25 p/km) than their counterparts in the United States (€0.65 p/km).

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

The Only Thing Tougher Than Climbing Everest is Raising The Funds to Get There

Over the summer I climbed a few mountains; Mount Snowden in Wales, UK (1,085m) and Mount Diablo in California, USA (1,173 m). These are the 1273rd and 1268th highest peaks in the world respectively.

While I’m happy with these expeditions they do not compare with even the top 100 peaks, all of which reach 7,000m above sea-level.

On my summits the biggest cost was the car park (£10 per day at Snowden, if I recall correctly). However, these sums are insignificant to climbing some of the world’s highest mountains where costs can easily run into tens-of-thousands-of-dollars.

Which left me wondering; how much does it cost to summit the highest mountains?


To get a wide spread of mountains, to account for geographic cost differences, I decided to compare costs of climbing the Seven Summits. For those unfamiliar, the Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge. The seven mountains that make up the series are:

Overall rank Mountain Meters Feet Continent
1 Mount Everest 8,848 29,029 Asia
235 Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 19,341 Africa
134 Aconcagua 6,962 22,841 South America
247 Mount Elbrus 5,642 18,510 Europe
213 Denali 6,168 20,236 North America
303 Puncak Jaya 4,884 16,024 Oceania
301 Vinson Massif 4,892 16,050 Antartica

You’ll see the only mountain in the top 100 highest peaks worldwide in this list is Everest. Over half of the top 100 peaks are found in the Himalayas, the mountain range where Everest is located.

Climbing costs can vary significantly person-to-person. One of the largest costs climbers incur are climbing guide fees. Generally, the more experienced guides are, the more climbers will pay for their services. I used the cheapest guide prices taken from two American guide services advertising climbs for the Seven Summits in 2017.

Climb times offered by guides also vary too. For time, I used an average figure calculated using the high and low climb estimates provided by the two guide services.


Guide fees to climb the Seven Summits


Download chart.

Guide fees rank Mountain Guide fees (USD) Meters
7 Aconcagua $4,700.00 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $5,000.00 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $5,000.00 5,642
4 Denali $8,500.00 6,168
3 Puncak Jaya $27,000.00 4,884
2 Vinson Massif $42,000.00 4,892
1 Mount Everest $65,000.00 8,848

Download table.

Some of these climbs are seen by elite climbers as hikes. For example, trips to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, are advertised to the masses as a safe and relatively easy climb. The low climbing fees, starting from $5000, make it even more attractive for those entering the world of mountaineering. Compare that to Everest, where prices start from $65,000, or the price of premium car!

To climb all Seven Summits at the prices listed above would cost you $157,200 in guide fees alone.

Cost per day to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-day-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20172Download chart.

Cost per day rank Mountain Cost per day USD Days ave Meters
7 Aconcagua $213.64 22 6,962
6 Mount Elbrus $357.14 14 5,642
5 Denali $386.36 22 6168
4 Mount Kilimanjaro $434.78 11.5 5,895
3 Mount Everest $896.55 72.5 8,848
2 Puncak Jaya $1,687.50 16 4,884
1 Vinson Massif $2,153.85 19.5 4,892

Download table.

While an Everest ascent and descent of 8,848 meters takes on average 72.5 days to complete, the cost to climb is significantly cheaper at $896.55 per day than both Puncak Jaya and Vinson Massif costing $1,687.50 per day and $2,153.85 per day respectively.

In contrast, Aconcagua is the cheapest to climb at $213.64 per day, over 90% cheaper than the most expensive Vinson Massif.

Cost per meter to climb the Seven Summits


Download chart.

Rank cost per meter Mountain Cost per meter USD Meters
7 Aconcagua $0.68 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $0.85 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $0.89 5,642
4 Denali $1.38 6168
3 Puncak Jaya $5.53 4884
2 Mount Everest $7.35 8848
1 Vinson Massif $8.59 4892

Download table.

Again, and surprising to me, Everest is not the most expensive mountain to summit. When looking at cost per meter Everest will set you back $7.35 per vertical meter, however, Vinson Massif, almost half the height of Everest will cost $8.59 per vertical meter! Whilst Everest is remote, Vinson Massif in Antartica is significantly harder to get to and has a less developed climbing industry resulting in the higher costs.

Similarly, Puncak Jaya, the smallest summit by height of all seven (4,884m) is the third most expensive costing $5.53 per vertical meter.


This post only considered costs listed by two climbing guide companies. There are large variations in actual costs charged by guide companies. Take Mount Everest for example, where some report guide costs between $30,000 – $85,000. It would be interesting to compare summit success per company by costs charged to help understand if more money buys success (or better guides).


As expected, guide fees to climb Everest are most expensive of all seven summits costing around $65,000 with expeditions taking on average 72.5 days. However, Vinson Massif, the second smallest mountain in the Seven Summit series at 4,892m has the second highest guide fees, $42,000, which means it is the most expensive when analysing the expeditions based on cost per day ($2,153.85) and cost per meter ($8.59).


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

London Has Enough Attractions to Keep You Busy For 16 Years

Have you ever visited a city and thought; 3/5/7 days is not enough?

Leaflets line the lobbies of hotels the world over advertising the wide range of activities you can sign up for, from elephant trekking in South East Asia to bungee jumps in New Zealand.

Often many of us will pick new destinations for holidays based on the activities on offer.

Which cities will keep you most busy based on your interests?


I used Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking (tourist arrivals) to identify the top 100 cities for tourism in 2015.

Using this list of 100, I then turned to Tripadvisor to identify number of activity options in each city. Tripadvisor splits activities into the following 20 categories:

  • Sights and landmarks
  • Transportation
  • Nature and parks
  • Shopping
  • Water and amusement parks
  • Tours
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Outdoor activities
  • Museums
  • Food and drink
  • Fun and games
  • Nightlife
  • Boat tours and water sports
  • Casinos and gambling
  • Concerts and shows
  • Spas and wellness
  • Classes and workshops
  • Traveller resources
  • Events
  • Day trips


Top cities (all activities)


Interactive map.

Rank total activities City & Country Activities Total
1 London, UK 5809
2 Tokyo, Japan 5021
3 Moscow, Russia 4375
4 New York City, US 4342
5 Rome, Italy 4159
6 Paris, France 3732
7 Prague, Czech Republic 3239
8 Barcelona, Spain 3203
9 St Petersburg, Russia 3158
10 Istanbul, Turkey 2990

Full list.

London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total. That is enough to keep you busy for almost 16 years (5809 / 365).

Europe is one of the best regions to visit for spread of activities, 8 of the top 10 cities in the top 10 are all European.

Top cities (nightlife)


Interactive map.

Rank nightlife activities City & Country Nightlife total
1 London, UK 1280
2 Madrid, Spain 913
3 New York City, US 857
4 Barcelona, Spain 776
5 Prague, Czech Republic 648
6 Berlin, Germany 600
7 Rome, Italy 565
8 Istanbul, Turkey 440
9 Paris, France 429
10 Milan, Italy 376

Full list.

9 of the top 10 cities for nightlife attractions are all European with London leading the way with 1280 options — over 300 more than 2nd placed Madrid.

Top cities (shopping)


Interactive map.

Rank shopping activities City & Country Shopping
1 New York City, US 796
2 London, UK 718
3 Paris, France 646
4 Tokyo, Japan 645
5 Istanbul, Turkey 530
6 Shanghai, China 506
7 Bangkok, Thailand 457
8 Rome, Italy 427
9 Prague, Czech Republic 386
10 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 386

Full list.

Unsurprisingly the “fashion capitals”, New York (769), London (718), Paris (646) have the most shopping options available to visitors.

Top cities (museums)


Interactive map.

Rank museums attractions City & Country Museums
1 Moscow, Russia 594
2 St Petersburg, Russia 430
3 Tokyo, Japan 390
4 Seoul, South Korea 330
5 Prague, Czech Republic 317
6 London, UK 314
7 Beijing, China 284
8 Istanbul, Turkey 283
9 New York City, US 266
10 Shanghai, China 261

Full list.

Russia, a country with a very rich history has a large number of museums compared to other major cities. Moscow (594) and St Petersburg (430) are placed 1st and 2nd for count of museums.

2 cities in Euromonitor’s Top 100 list have no museums: Halong (Vietnam) and Palau Pinang (Malaysia).

Top cities (food & drink)


Interactive map.

Food & drink rank City & Country Food & Drink
1 Rome, Italy 211
2 Hanoi, Vietnam 188
3 London, UK 170
4 Barcelona, Spain 166
5 Paris, France 159
6 Florence, Italy 134
7 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 112
8 Tokyo, Japan 106
9 Prague, Czech Republic 106
10 Madrid, Spain 102

Full list.

Rome tops the list for Food & Drink options. Parisians will be very disappointed to see themselves in 4th place, behind London in 3rd.

Top cities (nature & parks)


Interactive map.

Nature & park ranks City & Country Nature & Parks
1 Tokyo, Japan 378
2 Beijing, China 273
3 Moscow, Russia 187
4 London, UK 179
5 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 141
6 St Petersburg, Russia 133
7 Taipei, Taiwan 126
8 Shanghai, China 125
9 New York City, US 109
10 Sydney, Australia 106

Full list.

The greenest city in the world is highly debatable (how do you measure “green”?). Tripadvisor’s count does not account for area of green space, rather the number of distinct green spaces and parks. Tokyo, a city with a very dense population, does not have many very large parks but seemingly lots of very small green spaces.

Top cities (landmarks)


Interactive map.

Rank sights activities City & Country Sights & Landmarks
1 Tokyo, Japan 1851
2 Moscow, Russia 1300
3 St Petersburg, Russia 1030
4 Rome, Italy 894
5 Kyoto, Japan 799
6 Beijing, China 757
7 London, UK 693
8 Osaka, Japan 614
9 Paris, France 505
10 Milan, Italy 451

Full list.

I was not going to include this category as Sights and Landmarks is a very broad categorisation. However I decided to include with an explanation. Older cities will likely have lots of historic landmarks, but this category has no distinction. Likewise, a “sight” can be very subjective. As such, I am not sure there is too much we can draw from this category.


Tripadvisor’s count of activities offers a general overview of the most popular activities within a city. If you’re like me, you’ll browse Tripadvisor’s “Top 10” activities before visiting a new city. However, the activities listed by Tripadvisor is not exhaustive. Many activities, especially those of a very specialist nature, are likely to be excluded. If I could identify a better way to classify and count activities in each city the accuracy of the results could be improved.


London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Burn 12000 Calories A Week Skiing

Skiing is the greatest winter sport. End of discussion.

Enjoying the clean, fresh air whilst rushing down the side of the mountain is exhilarating. Who said exercise was boring?

Skiing 6 hours a day can make you very tired, and very hungry.

Which left me questioning; just how much food do you need to eat to replenish the calories burnt skiing?


Using GPS data collected from a recent 6 day ski holiday I was able to obtain the daily distances skied and then best guess my exertion level.

I was then able to use this data with standard exercise / calorie information available on CalorieLab to estimate how many calories I used up each day.


Calorie expenditure

Minutes Skiing by Exertion by Day

Download chart.

The data was collected using the Ski Tracks app (Android & iOS). Ski time only includes time spent descending. Ski exertion is best guess (40% time = light, 50% t = moderate, 10% t = vigorous).

According to NHS guidance the average male needs 2500 kCal per day to maintain their weight, or for the sake of this analysis have a kCal neutral balance. For simplicity, lets assume my daily energy requirements are 2500 kCal + energy spent skiing only.

My vital stats used to calculate calorie expenditure on CalorieLab: sex = male, weight = 70kg.

kCal Burned Skiing by Day

Download chart.

Did you know: A 70kg male can expend almost 3000 kCal moderately skiing for 5 hours (500 * 5.83 kCal p/min).

On Sunday 23rd January 2016, it is estimated I expended the highest number of Kilo Calories (kCal) skiing (1777.4 kCal), with estimated daily kCal expenditure falling slightly with each day — something I put down to fatigue. My average estimated daily kCal burned skiing was about 1676 kCal (8380 kCal week total).

Calorie intake

Food / Drink Serving Size kCal
Carlsberg (lager) 470ml (pint) 180
Cheese, Gruyere 10g 122
Red Wine 12.5cl (glass) 85
Domino’s Original Cheese & Tomato Large Classic Crust Pizza Slice 183
Oatmeal 100g 375
Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut Doughnut 222
Morrisons In Store Bakery Artisan Baguette 0.25 baguette 246

Full table.

To put this into perspective, you can see from the NHS Choices Calories Calculator how calorific classic skiing fare is.

A particularly calorific food diary from a skiing companion of mine saw an average intake of over 4000kCal, though I’m not naming anyone. On one day this figure was 4727 kcal! In his very weak defence, using my calorie neutral daily average of 4369 kCal this was only a surplus of 358 kCal (4727 – 4369), or two pints of beers (360 kCal). With a more controlled diet he could maintain a high daily kCal deficit and potentially lose weight.

Effects of altitude

There is not a huge difference in the amount of calories utilised at a higher altitude during exercise even though it may feel as though you are working much harder. The few extra calories burned will be a result of increased breathing to get more oxygen into the body, which means increased work by the rib cage and other muscles involved in ventilation (which are all relatively small).

Returning home

Some would argue the biggest danger is continuing such a diet upon your return home. 4727 kCal is almost twice the daily recommendation of 2500 kCal, a difference of 2227 kCal — one that would quickly start resulting in weight gain.


The science behind calorific burn is a confusing area to research due to the many conflicting arguments. Clearly, this is a very inaccurate analysis for the most part. By adding in additional variables to my calculations – like heart rate, temperature, etc – rather than just time would likely produce some very different results.


5 hours of continuous moderate skiing can burn almost 3000 kCal. Or 16 pints of beer (@180 kCal p/pint).


Data sources + data used in this post.