Olym-picks: Trivia bits and facts about where Rio’s athletes come from

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A Brazilian gymnast practices on the rings of the men's Artistic gymnastics during a practice session at the Olympic Arena A Brazilian gymnast practices on the rings of the men’s Artistic gymnastics during a practice session at the Olympic Arena on August 3, 2016 ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP/Emmanuel DUNAND)

More than 11,000 athletes will represent their homelands and compete for gold at the Rio Olympics. They hail from 205 countries and regions, and will compete in 28 sports across 306 events.


 

Who’s sending the most women?

women

U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles / AP Photo, Gregory Bull

Men have long outnumbered women at Summer Olympic games (zero women competed at the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896).

Some countries are sending more women than men to this summer’s Games. This includes China (255 women and 157 men), the U.S. (292 women and 262 men), the Netherlands (135 women and 107 men), New Zealand (100 women and 99 men), and Sweden (86 women and 66 men).

Note: The 1916, 1940, and 1944 Summer Olympics were cancelled due to WWI and WWII. 


Athletes from war-torn countries

Photo: AP.

Photo: AP.

Some 20 countries suffering from ongoing war or deadly conflict will be represented in Rio. Some 796 athletes are coming from areas that have current or ongoing conflict, including:

– 4 from Syria (Syrian Civil War)
– 23 athletes from Iraq (Iraq civil war)
– 63 from Nigeria (Boko Haram insurgency)
– 98 from Turkey (Kurdish-Turkish conflict)
– 124 from Mexico (War on Drugs)
– 183 from Ukraine (War in Donbass)

 


Who’s sending the most athletes?

Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP

Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP

Perhaps predictably, the U.S. will send more athletes than any other country — 555, as of July 29. That’s followed by Brazil (465 athletes), Germany (425), China (413), and Australia (410).

These five countries together account for more than a fifth of all the athletes competing at the 2016 summer games.

But those countries all have large populations well into the millions (and billions, in China’s case), so it makes sense that they send more than, say, Cyprus or Iceland, both with populations numbering less than 1 million.


The most athletes per capita?

Photo: Vaimaaga, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Robert Linsdell / Flickr.

Photo: Vaimaaga, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Robert Linsdell / Flickr.

But in terms of who’s sending the most athletes as a share of their population, that honor goes to the small nation of the Cook Islands: with a population of just 18,100, it’s seven Olympic athletes make it the country with the highest per-capita rate at Rio at 0.038 percent, or about one athlete per 2,586 residents.

On the opposite end is Bangladesh: with a population of more than 161 million and an Olympic team of three, it’s sending about one athlete to Rio for every 53.7 million citizens. 

(In case you’re curious, the U.S. with 555 athletes and a population of 324 million is at 0.000171 percent – about one athlete per 584,000 people.)


The Refugee Olympic Athletes

South Sudan's athlete Yiech Pur Biel, based in Kenya for the Refugee Olympic Team, visits the statue of Christ the Redeemer ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic games atop Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 30, 2016. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP.

South Sudan’s athlete Yiech Pur Biel, based in Kenya for the Refugee Olympic Team, visits the statue of Christ the Redeemer ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic games atop Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 30, 2016. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP.

There are six men and four women competing as refugees, originally from the war-torn countries of the DRC, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria. Six will be competing in Athletics (also known as Track and Field events), two in Judo, and two in Swimming.

 

 


The Russia (dope) factor

Russia's Yuliya Efimova prepares to compete in the final of the women's 50m breaststroke swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Aug. 9, 2015. Efimova, a 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, was among the seven banned from Rio by swimming's world governing body. Photo: Martin Bureau / AFP

Russia’s Yuliya Efimova prepares to compete in the final of the women’s 50m breaststroke swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Aug. 9, 2015. Efimova, a 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, was among the seven banned from Rio by swimming’s world governing body. Photo: Martin Bureau / AFP

Wait, doesn’t Russia usually send a lot of athletes to the Games?

Yes, Russia is usually a top athlete-sender. But this year has been mired in doping scandals. As of July 27, all but one of the country’s 68 track and field athletes have been prohibited from competing, and the International Weightlifting Federation has banned all Russian weightlifters from the Rio games.

For a country that sent 436 athletes to the 2012 London games and 455 to Beijing in 2008, less than 300 have been cleared to compete in Rio.