What Countries in Latam Have Never Won Olympic Medals?

According to the medal table of the International Olympic Committee, there are a total of 71 nations that have never been able to win a medal, 13 of which are from Latin America and especially the Caribbean.

Athlete with medals hanging from his neck

The Tokyo Olympic event, whose cycle was extended for another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the scene of multiple feats and prowess by many athletes seeking glory. Photo: Adobe Stock

LatinAmerican Post | Anderson Ayala

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Leer en español: ¿Qué países de América nunca han ganado medallas olímpicas?

The Tokyo Olympic event, whose cycle was extended for another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the scene of multiple feats and prowess by many athletes seeking glory. Some of them, and perhaps that is why the most admired, come from small or little-known countries, which have never seen a person represented on the podium of any of the disciplines.

This is notorious especially in the Caribbean islands and in some Central American countries that, perhaps due to their geographical location, their activities and economic dynamics and/or their socio-cultural conditions, do not dedicate so many human and capital resources to the development of the sport. However, this prevents them from being present at the Olympic events thanks to representative ranking systems.

Thus, delegations from countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bolivia, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, El Salvador, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, Honduras, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, the Cayman Islands, and Belize - many of these islands in the Caribbean - they have never been able to win medals in the past, be it gold, silver or bronze.

Also read: Tokyo 2020: Five Latino Athletes Seeking Olympic Gold

Until recently, other nations in the region were in the same situation, such as Granada and Guatemala, which managed to conquer their first historic medals at the London 2012 Olympics, or Bermuda, which reached their first medal at these Tokyo 2020 Games.

In addition, these Tokyo Games also serve as an opportunity for other Latin American delegations to look for their first gold medals, beyond the silver or bronze medals that they already have in their showcases. This is the case, then, of countries such as Haiti, Guatemala, Paraguay, the United States Virgin Islands, Barbados and Guyana.

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— #Tokio2020 en Español (@Tokyo2020es) July 23, 2021

The historic Olympic medal table has always been dominated by the great powers, especially the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, and more recently with the entry of Russia and China. Other nations of less economic power manage to classify fewer athletes, and therefore their chances of reaching places on the final podiums are also reduced.

In Latin America, the countries that have stood out the most in the historical medal table are Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and Mexico, countries that dominate the Pan American Games.

Since the first Olympics of Modernity were held in 1896, with headquarters in the city of Athens, the greatest global sporting feat has taken place in four-year cycles, almost uninterrupted except for the events of World War II. As an anecdotal fact, the first Games that had to be canceled, in 1940, were also held in the Japanese capital. Something similar happened again 80 years later, due to a pandemic.