Try our corporate solution for free!
+1 (212) 419-5770
esther.shaulova@statista.com

Total number of medals won in the Summer Olympics per country and by color 1896-2016

In the history of the Summer Olympics, the United States has been the most successful nation ever, with a combined total of more than 2,500 medals in 27 Olympic Games. More than one thousand of these were gold, with almost 800 silver and over 700 bronze. The second most successful team in Summer Olympic history was the Soviet Union**, who took home 440 golds and more than 1,100 total medals in ten Olympic Games between 1952 and 1992. When the total medal hauls of the Soviet Union, Russia and the Russian Empire are combined, they still fall short of the US' tally by almost one thousand medals. The third most successful Olympic team is that of Great Britain, who have participated in all 28 Olympic Games since 1896, and have taken home 851 medals, 263 of which were gold. China are in fourth place with more than 220 gold medals, but when all of the medals won by German athletes are combined they total at 428 golds and almost 1,350 overall.

Emerging nations

While European and Anglophone nations have traditionally dominated the medals tables, recent decades have seen the emergence and increased participation from athletes representing developing nations, such as Kenya, Jamaica, and particularly China. Although China has competed in just ten Summer Olympics, they have the fourth most gold medals across a variety of events, despite only developing a significant Olympic presence in the 1980s. Athletes from African and Caribbean nations have also developed a more formidable presence since this time, by focusing their resources on specific sports; for example, Kenyan athletes have established a lasting legacy in distance running events, while Jamaicans have dominated sprinting events in recent years. Despite this increased investment, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games saw a record number of African-born athletes representing high-income countries in the Arabian Gulf; most notably, athletes born in Kenya and Ethiopia competing for Bahrain.

The influence of money, politics and drugs

As mentioned above, European and Anglophone countries have dominated the medals tables in the past; this is because they had the financial resources to send athletes around the world to compete, and, until 1964, the host cities were always in these countries, which cause financial and logistical difficulties for African, Asian and Latin American countries. Financial difficulties have caused some countries to refuse invitations to the Olympics as recently as the 1980s, for example, many African and Latin American countries joined in the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games (due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), saving face by citing the boycott and not financial problems as the reason. This boycott also contributed to the Soviet Union and East Germany's high medal tally, as both nations took over sixty percent of all available gold medals. In retaliation, the Soviet Union led a boycott of the following Games in Los Angeles, opening the way for the United States to win almost half of all available golds in 1984.

Recent years have seen doping scandals replace financial and political factors as the main external-influence on the medals table. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, to combat the increasing use of performance-enhancing substances in sports. Since then it has had a major impact on the Olympic medal table, and has helped rescind and redistribute more than one hundred Olympic medals. Athletes from Russia and former-Soviet countries have been particularly affected by these measures, which follows a legacy of state-sponsored doping programs dating back to the 1980s. In 2019, WADA banning all Russian athletes from the 2020 Games in Tokyo due to yet another state-sponsored doping scandal; athletes from Russia may only compete if they have been cleared by WADA prior to the games, and they must compete under a neutral flag.

All-time medal count at the Summer Olympics by country and color from 1896 to 2016

Loading statistic...
You need to log in to download this statistic
Register for free
Already a member?
Log in
Show detailed source information?
Register for free
Already a member?
Log in
Sources

Release date

March 2020

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1896 to 2020

Supplementary notes

Countries are ranked by the number of gold medals won, then silver, then bronze. Where countries have the same number of respective medals they have been displayed alphabetically.

Data shown includes all re-distributed medals, as of May 2020.

This data was collected using the official Olympic.org site, as well as a spreadsheet from the Guardian that includes data from 1896-2008 (available here), 2012 and 2016 data was compared with that from Encyclopaedia Britannica, and several news outlets were used to update the table when medals were reassigned (i.e. for doping offenses).

*No longer exists/competes at the Olympics.

**Includes medals won by the Unified Team in the 1992 Olympics; made up of all athletes from former-Soviet countries, excluding the Baltic States.

***Includes medals won by the united German teams of the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics.

****Medals won by athletes representing Australasia in the 1908 and 1912 Olympics have been redistributed to the athletes' respective country. The gold medal won in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay has been included in both totals, as the team involved athletes from both countries.

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $468 / Year
Basic Account
Get to know the platform

You only have access to basic statistics.

Single Account
The ideal entry-level account for individual users
  • Instant access to 1m statistics
  • Download in XLS, PDF & PNG format
  • Detailed references
$59 $39 / Month *
in the first 12 months
Corporate Account
Full access

Corporate solution including all features.

* All products require an annual contract; Prices do not include sales tax.

Statistics on "History of the Summer Olympics"

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $468 / Year
Learn more about how Statista can support your business.