One Man Nations

There are 206 nations competing at the Olympics, and they all have varying numbers of athletes.

The usual ones you’d expect to be at the top are. The United States leads all comers with 554, then the host nation (Brazil, 445), Australia (421), and China (413).

Then there are the nations with decent numbers, but not massive ones. Kazakhstan, Serbia, and Switzerland all have 104 athletes.

The numbers steadily decline, from 87 (Venezuela), to 67 (Lithuania), to 51 (Fiji), to 26 (Honduras), to 16 (Cyprus), to 6 (Central African Republic), all the way down to 1.

Tuvalu is a very, very tiny nation, the third-smallest in the world (Nauru has 2 athletes, the Vatican City 0). Their population is less than 0.1% of Australia’s. The biggest source of income for the nation is selling their .tv domain name.

However, one athlete, Etimoni Timuani, has qualified for the Olympics. Aged 24, he has played six games for the national football team as a defender, and qualified for these Olympics in the 100 metre sprint.

Tuvalu is not the first nation to send just one athlete to the Olympics, however. Here is a list, with the nations and athletes.

  • 2012: Nil
  • 2008: Nauru (Itte Detenamo)
  • 2004: British Virgin Islands (Dion Crabbe), Brunei (Jimmy Anak Ahar), Liechtenstein (Oliver Geissmann)
  • 2000: British Virgin Islands (Keita Cline)
  • 1996: Afghanistan (Abdul Baser Wasiqi), Brunei (Prince Abdul Hakeem Jefri Bolkiah), Lebanon (Mohamed Al-Aywan), San Marino (Paolo Tura)
  • 1992: Solomon Islands (Leslie Ata)
  • 1988: Nil
  • 1984: Bangladesh (Saidur Rahman Dawn), Burma (Latt Zaw)
  • 1980: Nil
  • 1976: Nepal (Baikuntha Manandhar)
  • 1972: British Honduras (Owen Phillips), Gabon (Joseph Mbouroukounda), Lesotho (Motsapi Moorosi), Upper Volta (André Bicaba)
  • 1968: Central African Republic, Fiji (William Liga), Libya (Mohamed Asswai), Malta (Joseph Grech), Paraguay (Rodolfo da Ponte), Suriname (Eddy Monsels)
  • 1964: Algeria (Mohamed Lazhari), Bolivia (Fernando Inchauste), Cameroon, Dominican Republic (Alberto Torres), Liberia, Monaco, Niger (Issaka Dabore)
  • 1960: Haiti (Philome Laguerre)
  • 1956: Nil1
  • 1952: British Guiana, China (Wu Chuanyu), Panama
  • 1948: Malta (Nestor Jacono), Panama (Lloyd Labeach), Singapore (Lloyd Valberg), Syria (Zouheir Shourbagi), Venezuela (Julio César León)
  • 1936: Bolivia (Alberto Conrad), Costa Rica (Bernardo de la Guardia)
  • 1932: Republic of China (Liu Changchun), Colombia (Jorge Perry), Uruguay (Guillermo Douglas)
  • 1928: Cuba (Jose Eduardo Barrientos Schweyer), Panama (Adán Gordón)
  • 1924: Nil
  • 1920: Argentina (Ángel Rodríguez)
  • 1912: Egypt (A M Hassenein)
  • 1908: Argentina (Horatio Torromé), Turkey2
  • 1904: France (Albert Corey), Italy2Newfoundland2
  • 1900: [I’m sorry, there was no readily available source]
  • 1896: Australia (Edwin Flack), Bulgaria (Charles Champaud), Italy (Guiseppe Mirabella), Sweden (Henrik Sjöberg)

1The Netherlands had one athlete, Alexis Pantchoulidzew, at the equestrian events, which were held in Stockholm due to the strict quarantine laws in Australia. They boycotted the main events to protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary. Many sources don’t count this as competing at the 1956 Olympics.
2Due to the scarcity of records, there are disputes about nationalities in attendance at early Olympics.


This is part of my goal to post something on every day of the Olympics, so, each day, I’ll give you a quiz question, with the answer the next day. Today’s question:

Only two Olympics have had events in multiple countries. One of them was 1956 (Australia and Sweden), what is the second?

Answer through the comments, Twitter, or Facebook.

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