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Countries Banned from the Olympics 2024

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:

Why Countries are Banned from the Olympics

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

Countries defeated during World War I & II were not invited to the Olympics. For example, in 1948, Germany and Japan were left out of the Olympics after World War II.

Countries Banned from the Olympics

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:

1920 Olympics

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.

1924 Olympics

During this year, the ban on Germany continued, but Hungary, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria were allowed to compete.

1948 Olympics

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.

1964 Olympics

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.

1968 Olympics

South Africa remained banned from the Olympics along with countries competing with the rival organization- Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO).

1972 Olympics

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.

1976-1988 Olympics

The ban on South Africa followed in subsequent Olympic years due to the apartheid regime.

2000 Olympics

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.

2016 and 2020 Olympics

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.

  • Zimbabwe was named Rhodesia at the time of its bans.
  • Although not yet officially banned, Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) was prevented from participating in the 1968 games by the selective application of a UN security resolution which created passport issues for the country's athletes.
  • Although Russia was officially banned from several Olympics due to an ongoing doping program, Russian athletes who have tested clean have often been allowed to compete independently under the banner Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)

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Year Banned
Reason for Ban
Russia2016 Rio, 2018 PyeongChang, 2020 Tokyo, 2022 BeijingState-sponsored doping program. Drug-free Russians have often been allowed to compete independently under the banner Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)
Afghanistan2000 SydneyDiscrimination against women and prohibition of sports
Zimbabwe1972 Munich, 1976 MontrealRacial minority government
South Africa1964 Tokyo, 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal, 1980 Moscow, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 BarcelonaAparthied policies
Japan1948 LondonRole in WWII
Germany1920 Antwerp, 1924 Paris, 1948 LondonRole in WWI, role in WWII
Turkey1920 AntwerpRole in WWI
Hungary1920 AntwerpRole in WWI
Austria1920 AntwerpRole in WWI
Bulgaria1920 AntwerpRole in WWI

Which countries have been banned from the Olympics?

Russia, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Indonesia, South Africa, Rhodesia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait have been banned from competing in the Olympics at some point in history.

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