How Many Medals Did the Countries of the Former USSR Win in the 2008 Olympics?

Summary: If the former Soviet Union did not break up, it would have dominated the medal count in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

As of 2008, there are 15 countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union. The USSR was an Olympics powerhouse frequently winning more medals than any other country.

In the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the United States won the overall medal count with 110 total medals. China, however, won significantly more gold medals (51 vs. 36 for the U.S.). Russia came in a distant third with 72 total medals.

If the USSR did not shatter into 15 different countries in the early 1990s, their medal count in Beijing would be staggering. As you can see in the chart below, the countries that made up the former Soviet Union won an amazing 171 medals. They did not win more gold medals than China, but their total medal haul was nearly 50% more than the next-place finisher — the United States!

Although it has plenty to do with dedication and talent, the competition to win the most medals is also heavily affected by possibly-arbitrary political boundaries. If the United States split up into two countries in the civil war, then certainly the two constituents would win fewer medals alone.

2008 Olympic Medals from Countries in Former USSR


The following chart shows the number of medals won by the current countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union. If the USSR did not break up, however, we cannot be certain that this would have been the result.

Perhaps some athletes would be less or more motivated to compete for the Soviet Union and their results would have been different. Furthermore, the number of participants per Olympic event from a single country is limited. In some instances a medalist from Moldova, for example, might not even have participated in the Olympics because a Belorussian athlete qualified ahead of her.

Also, funding for the athletes by their respective Olympic Committees would certainly have been different (perhaps more or less), and this would likely have a big impact on the results.

Country Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
Russia 23 21 28 72
Ukraine 7 5 15 27
Belarus 4 5 10 19
Kazakhstan 2 4 7 13
Azerbaijan 1 2 4 7
Georgia 3 0 3 6
Uzbekistan 1 2 3 6
Armenia 0 0 6 6
Lithuania 0 2 3 5
Latvia 1 1 1 3
Estonia 1 1 0 2
Kyrgyzstan 0 1 1 2
Tajikistan 0 1 1 2
Moldova 0 0 1 1
Totals 43 45 83 171

2008 Beijing Olympic Medals

RankCountry Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
- Former USSR 43 45 83 171
1 United States 36 38 36 110
2 China 51 21 28 100
3 Russia 23 21 28 72
4 Great Britain 19 13 15 47
5 Australia 14 15 17 46
6 Germany 16 10 15 41
7 France 7 16 17 40
8 South Korea 13 10 8 31
9 Italy 8 10 10 28
10 Ukraine 7 5 15 27
11 Japan 9 6 10 25
12 Cuba 2 11 11 24
13 Belarus 4 5 10 19
14 Spain 5 10 3 18
15 Canada 3 9 6 18
16 Netherlands 7 5 4 16
17 Brazil 3 4 8 15
18 Kenya 5 5 4 14
- Former Yugoslavia 1 5 7 13
19 Kazakhstan 2 4 7 13
- Former Czechoslovakia 6 5 1 12
20 Jamaica 6 3 2 11
21 Poland 3 6 1 10
22 Hungary 3 5 2 10
23 Norway 3 5 2 10
24 New Zealand 3 1 5 9
25 Romania 4 1 3 8
26 Turkey 1 5 3 8
27 Ethiopia 4 1 2 7
28 Denmark 2 2 3 7
29 Azerbaijan 1 2 4 7
30 Czech Republic 3 3 0 6
31 Slovakia 3 2 1 6
32 Georgia 3 0 3 6
33 North Korea 2 1 3 6
34 Argentina 2 0 4 6
35 Switzerland 2 0 4 6
36 Uzbekistan 1 2 3 6
37 Armenia 0 0 6 6
38 Slovenia 1 2 2 5
39 Bulgaria 1 1 3 5
40 Indonesia 1 1 3 5
41 Sweden 0 4 1 5
42 Croatia 0 2 3 5
43 Lithuania 0 2 3 5
44 Mongolia 2 2 0 4
45 Thailand 2 2 0 4
46 Zimbabwe 1 3 0 4
47 Finland 1 1 2 4
48 Greece 0 2 2 4
49 Nigeria 0 1 3 4
50 Chinese Taipei 0 0 4 4
51 Mexico 2 0 1 3
52 Latvia 1 1 1 3
53 India 1 0 2 3
54 Austria 0 1 2 3
55 Ireland 0 1 2 3
56 Serbia 0 1 2 3
57 Belgium 1 1 0 2
58 Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
59 Estonia 1 1 0 2
60 Portugal 1 1 0 2
61 Iran 1 0 1 2
62 Trinidad and Tobago 0 2 0 2
63 Algeria 0 1 1 2
64 Bahamas 0 1 1 2
65 Colombia 0 1 1 2
66 Kyrgyzstan 0 1 1 2
67 Morocco 0 1 1 2
68 Tajikistan 0 1 1 2
69 Bahrain 1 0 0 1
70 Cameroon 1 0 0 1
71 Panama 1 0 0 1
72 Tunisia 1 0 0 1
73 Chile 0 1 0 1
74 Ecuador 0 1 0 1
75 Iceland 0 1 0 1
76 Malaysia 0 1 0 1
77 Singapore 0 1 0 1
78 South Africa 0 1 0 1
79 Sudan 0 1 0 1
80 Vietnam 0 1 0 1
81 Afghanistan 0 0 1 1
82 Egypt 0 0 1 1
83 Israel 0 0 1 1
84 Mauritius 0 0 1 1
85 Moldova 0 0 1 1
86 Togo 0 0 1 1
87 Venezuela 0 0 1 1
Totals 302 303 353 958



How about other Countries that have Dissolved?



2008 Olympic Medals from Countries in Former Yugoslavia

The former Yugoslavia split into eight different countries (seven if you exclude Kosovo). Only three of the former Yugoslav countries received medals but together, they would have been one of the top 20 countries in terms of total medals won.

Country Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
Slovenia 1 2 2 5
Croatia 0 2 3 5
Serbia 0 1 2 3
Totals 1 5 7 13



2008 Olympic Medals from Countries in Former Czechoslovakia


The former Czechoslovakia dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993. Together, they would have won a total of 12 medals which would have moved them into the top 20 countries in the world.

Country Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
Czech Republic 3 3 0 6
Slovakia 3 2 1 6
Totals 6 5 1 12



Notes


  • There were a total of 87 countries received at least one medal out of the 200 or so countries in the world.
  • The reason that the number of bronze, silver and gold medals are not equal is because of ties. If two athletes/teams tie, then they can both win medals. There were significantly more ties for third than for the silver or gold.
  • The New York Times provides an interesting historical map of Olympic Medals by country.