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 2010. Since Germany is the legal heir of the German teams 1896-2010, 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 and 2008 gold 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 1896-2010, since nations have grown at varying speeds. Per capita rankings have been traditionally dominated by East Germany (e.g., Summer 1980: 47 golds / 16 m people = 2.9 golds per million capita, 1988: 2.3 gpmc) and Norway (e.g., Winter 1998: 10 golds / 5 m people = 2.0 gpmc; 2002: 2.6 gpmc) (but note that the number of golds per Games has grown by 60% in the period 1980-2010). In some Olympics very small countries achieved even higher per capita values (notably Liechtenstein 1980: 2 golds / 0.033 m people = 60 gpmc; Bahamas 2000: 2 golds / 0.33 m people = 6 gpmc), but not on a routine basis - in such cases there always was a single athlete who contributed to all victories of his nation. These 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. Note that most small nations usually have 0.0 gpmc; the values of the 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, 2010 (extending the 2006 all time gold count and the 2008 all time gold count).

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

1896-2008 (top 4 only: those with at least 300 gold medals)

EU flag EU 1974 26
USA flag USA 929 25
German flag Germany 400 23
Soviet Union flag USSR 395 9
Earth Others 1407 26

TOTAL 1896-2010
(at least 300 gold medals)

EU flag EU 2476 47
USA flag USA 1016 46
German flag Germany 528 42
Soviet Union flag USSR 473 18
Earth Others 1514 47