Although Russia is the most recent country to be banned from participating in the Olympics, history shows many other countries have suffered the same ordeal. Typically, the Olympic movement strives to create a peaceful world. Therefore, any nation in violation of this mission is banned from participating in the games.
This was Russia’s predicament after the World Anti-Doping Agency found that it supported doping among athletes to improve their performance. Although the discovery hardly indicates grievous crimes against humanity, like causing war, it still counters the Olympics' mission.
As a result, no athlete could represent Russia at the Olympics, World Championships, or Paralympics for the next two years (2020-2022). Initially, the ban was set for four years, but the Sports Court of Arbitration reduced the sentence to two years. Before looking at other countries banned from the Olympics in the past, we need to understand the reasons for banishment:
Many countries were sidelined from the Olympics due to political reasons. In some instances, the countries have boycotted the games to:
-Protest racial discrimination -Protest against participants’ contemporary politics -Protest against the International Olympic Committee
The practice dates back to the early 1920s when World War I started. At the time, the host city sent out invitations to the participants. In the case a country was banished from the Olympics, it would receive the information from the host country.
The rule has since changed as only the International Olympic Committee is tasked with sending out invitations. Examples of countries that have been banned from the Olympics include:
In 1920, five countries (Austria, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey) were banned from the Olympics due to their involvement in the First World War. Antwerp, Belgium, was the host country for that year’s Olympics.
During this year, the ban on Germany continued, but Hungary, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria were allowed to compete.
Germany was still left out of this year’s Olympics along with Japan. Since London was the host country, it decided not to invite Japanese athletes to the Olympics due to the animosity between the two countries. Apparently, Britain didn't like how Japan treated their prisoners of war during World War II.
This year, South Africa was banned from participating in Olympics for 30 years due to the apartheid regime. The ban lasted until 1992. Other countries like North Korea withdrew from the Olympics to protest the decision.
South Africa remained banned from the Olympics along with countries competing with the rival organization- Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO).
Zimbabwe was banned from participating in that year’s Olympics, and other African countries threatened to pull out if the IOC made good their threat.
The ban on South Africa followed in subsequent Olympic years due to the apartheid regime.
The Olympics were held in Sydney, and Afghanistan was banned from participating. The country was under Taliban rule, which discriminated against women and prohibited participation in sports of any kind.
In 2016, the IOC realized the depth of Russia’s doping violations and banned athletes from competing in weightlifting, track, and field games. After investigations, the IOC barred Russia’s entire team from participating in any Olympic competition.
Reason for Ban
|Russia||2016 Rio, 2018 PyeongChang, 2020 Tokyo, 2022 Beijing||State-sponsored doping program. Drug-free Russians have often been allowed to compete independently under the banner Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)|
|Afghanistan||2000 Sydney||Discrimination against women and prohibition of sports|
|Zimbabwe||1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal||Racial minority government|
|South Africa||1964 Tokyo, 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal, 1980 Moscow, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Barcelona||Aparthied policies|
|Japan||1948 London||Role in WWII|
|Germany||1920 Antwerp, 1924 Paris, 1948 London||Role in WWI, role in WWII|
|Turkey||1920 Antwerp||Role in WWI|
|Hungary||1920 Antwerp||Role in WWI|
|Austria||1920 Antwerp||Role in WWI|
|Bulgaria||1920 Antwerp||Role in WWI|
Russia, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Indonesia, South Africa, Rhodesia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait have been banned from competing in the Olympics at some point in history.