The original Olympic charter forbade medal counts
that include a ranking per country
(read more). But many media do publish
medal counts. All of them are inofficial - so is the present one.
The European entry is the sum of the gold counts of all EU members as of 2012.
Since Germany is the legal heir of all
German teams 1896-2012, we sum their gold counts.
The USSR usually won the medal count
but participated rarely (1956-1988; we don't combine
medals of USSR and Russia because the latter
is not the former's legal heir).
EU medal tracker,
Athens 2004 Medal Count,
Beijing 2008 Medal Count,
London 2012 Medal Count,
All Time Gold Counts
Even more gold expected for smaller but unified EU team.
In the 20th century
nearly half of all gold medals went to Europe,
which is not surprising as it is home of most
world record holders and champions in Olympic disciplines.
the high EU gold count just reflect
the large number of competitors sent by all the individual EU nations?
Not at all. It's quality, not quantity that matters.
If the EU sent only its three best
athletes per individual event, and only one
all-star team per team event, the EU gold count
would actually increase, since almost all individual events are
won by one of the top three favorites
(sending additional inferior athletes is usually in vain), and the
unified EU all-star teams also would win many
team events (4 x 100m relays etc)
currently won by non-EU teams.
All time per capita rankings must take into
account historic census data 1896-2012, since nations
have grown at varying speeds. Per capita rankings
traditionally dominated by
East Germany (1976:
47 golds / 16m = 2.9 golds per million capita,
1980: 3.5 gpmc; note that the number of golds per Games
has grown by 64% since 1976).
In some Olympics very small countries
achieved even higher values though. The record holder is Liechtenstein (1980): 2 golds (for the same person) /
0.033 m people = 60 gpmc (compare also Grenada: 9 gpmc in 2012).
In such cases, however, there always was a single athlete/team
responsible for all victories, and the country could not repeat the feat on a routine basis.
Such outlier cases should be ignored as they are statistical flukes - many small
nations are taking part in many Games, hence one of them will eventually boast a gold medalist.
None of the outlier countries has a Summer Games average close to East
Germany's 1.9 gpmc;
most small nations have 0.0 gpmc; the values of all large
nations are clearly below 0.5 gpmc.
The Olympics as a European invention
are biased towards popular European sports.
An alternative bias towards, say, popular Asian sports would probably
yield a different picture.
J. Schmidhuber, 2012
All Time Gold Counts