From 1896 to 2016, the number of athletes competing in the summer games has seen an increase of over 6,200% according to data gathered by the International Society of Olympic Historians. There are 206 National Olympic Committees with a projected 11,360 athletes at the Tokyo games.
The United States dominates in terms of gold medals with nearly 1,030 of them won since the first game in Athens, but could the nation’s success at the Olympics be based around sending more athletes than their competitors?
We adjusted our data based on the number of athletes by country to see a more accurate picture of how each country performed in each game.
Olympic Medals Adjusted Per Athlete
Since the 1896 games in Athens, the number of countries and athletes participating in the Olympics has ballooned in size lowering the number of medals per athlete for each country.
Source: International Society of Olympic Historians; Olympedia; International Olympic Committee Credit: Andrew Williams/NBC
Countries that did not win any medals are not included in the data.
Australia saw the highest number in the Paris 1900 games with three medals per athlete – all bronze with one athlete competing.
Of countries that did win medals, Mexico saw the lowest number of medals per athlete in the Munich 1972 games. 174 athletes competed on Team Mexico and took home one silver medal which is about 0.0057 medals per athlete.
There are a few nations represented in the data that no longer exist like Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, and some athletes from current nations competed when their countries didn’t exist yet.
Some countries have also refused to participate in the games or skipped years in the past like when the United States boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.