Medal progression of select non-European countries at the Summer Olympics 1896-2016

While European and Anglophone nations have dominated the medal tables throughout the history of the Olympics, recent decades have seen the increased success of Asian athletes across a variety of sports, while African and Caribbean athletes have gone on to dominate a number of athletic events. Outside of Europe, the United States has consistently been the best performing nation at the Summer Games, while China has emerged as a new powerhouse since the 1980s. Following these two countries, Australia has been the most successful nation, particularly in 1956 and 2000 when it was the host nation. Canadian athletes performed well in early and more recent tournaments, but the nation's form dipped in the middle of the twentieth century. Japan's success has fluctuated over time, but has it has generally been the most successful Asian nation after China, while South Korea's presence has grown since it hosted the Games in 1988. Since the 1970s and 1980s, athletes from developing nations have gained improved access to training facilities and financial support, with several Kenyans and Jamaicans growing to "superstar" status in the world of athletics (and beyond, in the case of Jamaica's Usain Bolt), and Cuba has emerged as one of the most formidable nations in combat sports at the Olympics.

Total number of medals won by athletes from selected non-European countries in the Summer Olympics from 1896 to 2016

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Release date




Survey time period

1896 to 2016

Supplementary notes

This data was collected using the official 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).

If the number zero is shown for a country, that means athletes from the country did participate, but did not win any medals. If there is no entry for a country in specific years, then they did not participate in those Olympics.

*Includes medals won by Australian athletes competing for the Australasian team of 1908 and 1912.

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