Over the last few days I have posted on athletes competing in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and those who competed in 2 different sports. What about athletes who have competed for 2 different nations at the Olympics? Surely that has happened a few times.
Well, it has, in fact we have 1,622 such Olympians in our database – that’s out of about 135,450 Olympians. It is probably more correct to say they represented 2 or more GPEs, or geo-political entities, at the Olympics, rather than nations. This is because technically Olympians represent National Olympic Committees, or NOCs, rather than nations, but also there are several exceptions to nations and NOCs, but for simplicity, we will stick to “nations”.
As examples of non-national GPEs, Russia competed at PyeongChang in 2018 as OAR = Olympic Athletes from Russia, and will compete at Tokyo as ROC = Russian Olympic Committee. There have been Refugee Olympic Teams, unfortunately labelled as ROT originally, but now to be EOR = Équipe Olympique Réfugée. Further, there have been several cases where teams were labelled as IOA = Independent Olympic Athletes or IOP = Independent Olympic Participants. Finally, some NOCs do not represent independent nations, such as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, territories of the United States; or the British Virgin Islands, a British Overseas Territory; Hong Kong, China, now a part of China; and formerly the Netherlands Antilles, which was a part of the Netherlands.
Even listing all the nations can cause some confusion, because many of these 1,622 cases have been nations that have been related politically. The Soviet Union’s republics separated into many different nations, as did the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and Germany was formerly the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East). So we will make a distinction between 1) related nations, and 2) distinctly different nations (DDN).
Of the 1,622 cases in our database, only 315 of them involved DDN. There are actually 5 examples of athletes representing 4 nations at the Olympics, although none of these are fully DDN, and they all involve former Soviet or Yugoslav athletes. They are as follows:
There have been 92 athletes represent 3 nations at the Olympics, with almost all of them involving athletes from former Soviet or Yugoslav republics. Only 1 athlete can be considered to have represented 3 DDN – Yamilé Aldama, originally a Cuban triple jumper who competed in 5 Olympics from 1996-2012. She competed for Cuba in 1996 and 2000, the Sudan in 2004 and 2008, and Great Britain in 2012.
What are the most frequent combinations of multiple nations represented? There have been 354 different combinations, but looking at all nations, related and distinctly different, here is the list of the most common:
|Fed. Rep. Germany/Germany||228|
|German Demo. Rep./Germany||172|
|Unified Team/Soviet Union||107|
|Olympic Athletes from Russia/Russia||47|
|Egypt/United Arab Rep.||35|
|Unified Team/Russia/Soviet Union||34|
|Serbia & Montenegro/Serbia||27|
As you can see, these are all politically related nations. Now if we limit the list to DDN, this looks far different:
But looking at this another way, here are the most common nations among the DDN:
Now what about winning Olympic medals for 2 nations or 2 DDN? Has that happened? Of course, it has. There are 320 cases of Olympic athletes winning medals for 2 different nations, but limiting this to DDN, this narrows it down to only 25 examples. There have also been 10 cases in which an athlete won Olympic medals for 3 different nations, although with the exception of Irina Lashko, 8 of these were for the Soviet Union, Unified Team, and Russia, and 1 case involved Yugoslavia and its various different names. Here is that list:
Again, Anfisa Reztsova is the queen of cross-overs, having won medals in 2 different sports for 3 different nations.
Finally, how many Olympians have won gold medals for 2 different nations? This has been done 67 times, but only 3 times by athletes representing DDN:
|Viktor An (Hyeon-Su Ahn)||M||STK||KOR/2006||RUS/2014|
And from the previous list, 3 Olympians actually have won gold medals for 3 different nations, but all were for the Soviet Union/Unified Team/Russia combination – Anfisa Reztsova (BIA/CCS), Aleksandr Karelin (WRE), and Andrey Lavrov (HAN).
And there you have it.