all time gold medal count bar

1914-2006 (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 2006. Since Germany is the legal heir of the German teams 1896-2006, we sum their gold counts. Rare participations 1956-1988 explain the USSR's performance (note that today's Russia is not the legal heir of the former USSR). See also: 2004 medal count.

Even more gold for the EU as a single entity? 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 in team competitions (4 x 100m relays, football, etc.) Europe cannot simply form a superb team by assembling the best athletes of all EU nations. Hence often some non-EU team wins, although it could not expect to beat the EU all star team. On the other hand, the EU nations currently send more athletes than a unified EU would send. Although the top-ranked favorites usually get the gold, this increases the chances that some second rate EU athlete wins gold just by accident in case all favorites fail to deliver. How often does this happen? Could such occasional luck make a significant difference in the overall gold count?

All time per capita rankings must take into account historic census data 1896-2006, since nations have grown at varying speeds. Such rankings are dominated by Norway (5 million inhabitants as of 2006) and East Germany (16 million in the 1980s). Compare: Germany: 80 million (2006), USSR: 270 million (1980), US: 300 million (2006), EU: 490 million (2006).

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, 2006

PS: all time gold count updated 2008; all time gold count updated 2010.

EU flag EU 462 20
German flag Germany 118 18
Norwegian flag Norway 98 20
Soviet Union flag USSR 78 9
USA flag USA 78 20
Earth Others 156 20

1896-2004 (top 4 only: those with at least 200 gold medals)

EU flag EU 1881 25
USA flag USA 896 24
Soviet Union flag USSR 395 9
German flag Germany 385 22
Earth Others 1035 25

TOTAL 1896-2006
(at least 300 gold medals)

EU flag EU 2343 45
USA flag USA 974 44
German flag Germany 503 40
Soviet Union flag USSR 473 18
Earth Others 1191 46