The original Olympic charter forbade medal counts
that include a ranking per country
(read more). But many media do publish them. All of them are inofficial - so is the present one.
The European Union entry is the sum of the gold counts of all EU members as of 2008 (in GDP rankings etc the EU is normally also listed as a
See also: 2004 Medal Count, and
All Time Gold Counts of 2006,
Even more gold expected for smaller but unified EU team.
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.
In fact, team events
bias the Olympics towards large countries dominating
certain fields, in particular, gymnastics or swimming,
where competitions are highly correlated
in the sense that single athletes frequently win several
different events. The most highly decorated athletes
are either Soviet gymnasts or US swimmers who
collected many team medals (relays etc) in addition
to several individual medals - impossible for
a superb athlete from a small country such as Denmark, or for
the lone "king of athletes" who wins
the 10-event Decathlon, but nothing else.
Note that we can safely ignore silver and bronze medals
used in (inofficial) IOC rankings to break
the tie where gold counts are equal. (If we added the
silver and bronze counts of individual EU nations,
we'd overestimate what a unified
EU would get, since in
events with only one team per nation (e.g., handball)
the unified EU could not
win silver or bronze in addition to the gold.)
Per capita rankings have been
traditionally dominated by
Norway (e.g., Winter 1998: 10 golds / 5
million people = 2000 golds per billion capita)
and East Germany (e.g., Summer 1980: 47 golds /
16 million people = 2900 gpbc, 1988: 2300 gpbc).
In some Olympics very small countries with a single gold-winning
achieved even higher values, but not on a
routine basis - these were statistical flukes.
J. Schmidhuber, 21 August 2008