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Number of athletes at the Summer Olympics by gender 1896-2016

The first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 saw just 241 athletes compete across 43 different events. Over the next 120 years, these numbers have gradually climbed, and the Games in Rio in 2016 were the largest to date, with more than eleven thousand athletes taking part in 306 different events. The Athens Games in 1896 was exclusively for male athletes, while the Paris Games in 1900 had 22 female competitors, in non-athletic events such as tennis and golf (although the golf participants were not aware that it was an Olympic event, and the gold medalist's family were not informed of this until recently). Over time, the number of female athletes slowly increased, although it did not hit the ten percent mark until 1952, or the quarter mark until 1988; while the highest level of female participation was in 2016, where more than 5,000 (45 percent) of the athletes were women. In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, a number of mixed shooting events, table tennis doubles, and swimming and sprinting relays will be introduced, in an attempt to improve participation among female athletes.

Number of male and female athletes participating at the Summer Olympics from 1896 to 2016

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Source

Release date

2019

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1896 to 2016

Supplementary notes

This data was compiled from the linked report, and with data from each individual event page on olympic.org.
The combined totals for each year are as follows
1896 - 241
1900 - 997
1904 - 651
1908 - 2,008
1912 - 2,407
1920 - 2,622
1924 - 3,088
1928 - 2,883
1932 - 1,334
1936 - 3,963
1948 - 4,104
1952 - 4,955
1956 - 3,314
1960 - 5,338
1964 - 5,151
1968 - 5,516
1972 - 7,134
1976 - 6,084
1980 - 5,179
1984 - 6,829
1988 - 8,391
1992 - 9,356
1996 - 10,318
2000 - 10,651
2004 - 10,625
2008 - 10,942
2012 - 10,568
2016 - 11,238

*Estimate, calculated by using the official total, with 55 percent male and 45 percent female (this approximate percentage was given by the International Olympic Committee).

**The source only provides data relating to the number of female athletes; the number of male athletes has been calculated by subtracting the female figures from the totals.

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Statistics on "History of the Summer Olympics"

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