all time gold medal count bar

1914-2010 (top 5 only)


of Gold

of Partici-
in the

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). See also: EU medal tracker, Athens 2004 Medal Count, Beijing 2008 Medal Count, London 2012 Medal Count, and All Time Gold Counts of 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012.

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. But doesn't 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 have been 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.

European bias. 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 (extending the All Time Gold Counts of 2006, 2008, 2010)

EU flag EU 502 21
German flag Germany 128 19
Norwegian flag Norway 107 21
USA flag USA 87 21
Soviet Union flag USSR 78 9
Earth Others 107 21

1896-2012 (top 4 only: those with at least 300 gold medals)

EU flag EU 2066 27
USA flag USA 974 26
German flag Germany 411 24
Soviet Union flag USSR 395 9
Earth Others 1571 27

TOTAL 1896-2012
(at least 300 gold medals)

EU flag EU 2568 48
USA flag USA 1062 47
German flag Germany 539 43
Soviet Union flag USSR 473 18
Earth Others 1678 48