Small Nations Competing at the Olympics

Nick Zaccardi, NBC Olympics maven, posited that if Fiji gets 50+ athletes qualified for the 2016 Olympics, that it might be the most ever for a nation with less than 1,000,000 population. I tweeted recently that it would be and that no such current nation had had more than 40 competitors at a single Olympics. Unfortunately, I did not go back far enough checking those stats, and it has happened before.

Luxembourg is the only nation with < 106 population (as of 2015) that has had 40 or more competitors at a single Olympics, and they have done it several times, with a high of 52 in 1960. They also had 47 in 1928, 45 in 1948, and 44 three times – 1936, 1948, and 1952.

The first such nation to compete at the Olympics was again Luxembourg, in 1900, although this was not known for over 80 years. Michel Théato, winner of the 1900 marathon, was always considered French until French athletics historian Alain Bouillé discovered in the early 1980s that he was actually a Luxembourgeois national. In 1908 and 1912 Iceland competed, although it was a Danish territory in both those years. From 1920-28 Luxembourg and Monaco competed, along with Malta in 1928. It was not until 1936 that six such small nations competed – Bermuda, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and Monaco. In 2012, fully 43 such small nations competed at London.

Through 2012, such small nations have competed 398 times at the Summer Olympics – we did not check Winter Olympics for this stat. This has been done in all by 43 nations, although Guyana (British Guiana), Belize (British Honduras), and Samoa (Western Samoa), competed under two different names in various years.

The following list is inclusive of all nations who have competed at the Olympics, with 10 or more competitors, both men and women, at a single Summer Olympics, and currently have a population under a million. I did not try to go back and check populations at the time of their Olympic participation – sorry, but that would be a huge effort. This also eliminates a few small nations that no longer exist as nations, notably Netherlands Antilles and Newfoundland, both of which have competed at the Olympics, but never with very many athletes.

Nation 3LA Year ###
Luxembourg LUX 1960 52
Luxembourg LUX 1928 47
Luxembourg LUX 1948 45
Luxembourg LUX 1924 44
Luxembourg LUX 1936 44
Luxembourg LUX 1952 44
Montenegro MNE 2012 33
Iceland ISL 1988 32
Iceland ISL 1984 30
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1984 29
Iceland ISL 1992 27
Iceland ISL 2008 27
Iceland ISL 2012 27
Iceland ISL 2004 26
The Bahamas BAH 1996 26
Iceland ISL 1972 25
Luxembourg LUX 1920 25
The Bahamas BAH 2000 25
The Bahamas BAH 2008 25
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1992 25
Fiji FIJ 1988 23
Cyprus CYP 2000 22
Guam GUM 1992 22
The Bahamas BAH 1984 22
The Bahamas BAH 2004 22
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1988 22
Luxembourg LUX 1912 21
The Bahamas BAH 2012 21
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1976 21
Bermuda BER 1992 20
Cyprus CYP 2004 20
The Bahamas BAH 1972 20
Guam GUM 1988 19
Iceland ISL 1948 19
Montenegro MNE 2008 19
San Marino SMR 1984 19
Barbados BAR 2000 18
Fiji FIJ 1992 18
Iceland ISL 2000 18
Barbados BAR 1988 17
Barbados BAR 1992 17
Cyprus CYP 1992 17
Cyprus CYP 1996 17
Cyprus CYP 2008 17
Fiji FIJ 1996 17
San Marino SMR 1992 17
Barbados BAR 1984 16
Bermuda BER 1976 16
San Marino SMR 1980 16
The Bahamas BAH 1968 16
The Bahamas BAH 1988 16
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1972 16
Antigua and Barbuda ANT 1988 15
Antigua and Barbuda ANT 1984 14
Cyprus CYP 1980 14
Fiji FIJ 1984 14
The Bahamas BAH 1992 14
Antigua and Barbuda ANT 1992 13
Antigua and Barbuda ANT 1996 13
Barbados BAR 1972 13
Barbados BAR 1996 13
Cyprus CYP 2012 13
Iceland ISL 1976 13
Luxembourg LUX 2008 13
The Bahamas BAH 1960 13
Bermuda BER 1948 12
Bermuda BER 1984 12
Bermuda BER 1988 12
Iceland ISL 1936 12
Liechtenstein LIE 1988 12
Luxembourg LUX 1964 12
U.S. Virgin Islands ISV 1996 12
Barbados BAR 1976 11
Belize BIZ 1984 11
Luxembourg LUX 1956 11
Luxembourg LUX 1972 11
Malta MLT 1936 11
Monaco MON 1960 11
Samoa SAM 1988 11
San Marino SMR 1988 11
Seychelles SEY 1980 11
Seychelles SEY 1992 11
The Bahamas BAH 1964 11
The Bahamas BAH 1976 11
Antigua and Barbuda ANT 1976 10
Barbados BAR 2004 10
Belize BIZ 1988 10
Belize BIZ 1992 10
Bermuda BER 2004 10
Cayman Islands CAY 1992 10
Cyprus CYP 1984 10
Guyana GUY 1984 10
Luxembourg LUX 2004 10
Malta MLT 1960 10
San Marino SMR 1976 10
St. Kitts & Nevis SKN 1996 10

5 thoughts on “Small Nations Competing at the Olympics”

  1. Games took part in the Opening Ceremony, but neither athlete competed, so they are not counted as the participation nations at the IOC Olympic Games web site. Games due to a scheduling error.

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