Here’s a brief history of every country that’s been banned from the Olympic games


On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee announced that it had banned Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In its announcement, the IOC explained that government officials will be barred from attending the games and the nation’s flag will not be displayed during the opening or closing ceremonies because of the country’s “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system.” Individual athletes may apply for special permission to compete, but will do so under a neutral uniform.

And the punishment didn’t stop at barring athletes from future competitions. As the New York Times explained, officials are still sorting through tainted urine tests from the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia. As they do, they are actively rescinding medals from athletes found to have been doping. Thomas Bach, president if the IOC, told the Times that there would be a special medal ceremony at the upcoming winter games to reassign medals to retroactive winners.

And to pour salt in the wound, the Russian Olympic Committee was also fined $15 million.

However, Russia isn’t the only nation to ever be barred from competing in the Olympic Games. Keep scrolling to learn more about the other countries who have been banned from attending.

Kuwait - 2016 Rio Olympics

Kuwait was barred from competing in the 2016 summer games to “protect the Olympic Movement in Kuwait from undue government interference.” The decision was made after the country passed a law allowing the government to interfere with its national sport federations.

However, athletes were still able to compete under the neutral flag. At least two took home medals. Fehaid Al-Deehani took home a gold medal in the men’s double trap and his fellow countryman Abdullah Al-Rashidi took home a bronze in the men’s shooting skeet.

India - 2014 Sochi Olympics

In 2012, the IOC barred India from competing in the 2014 games after it elected officials accused of corruption. Indian athletes attended the games, again under a neutral flag. However, days into the Sochi Games the country elected new leadership and the ban was lifted.

“The decision means Indian athletes can compete for their national Olympic committee. They can walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AFP. “The Indian flag will be raised in the [Sochi Winter Games] village, at a time to be announced.”

Afghanistan - 2000 Sydney and 2002 Salt Lake Olympics

Athletes from Afghanistan have missed out on their fair share of games thanks to the Taliban’s ban on female athletes. In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, the IOC worked with the country to help rebuild its Olympic committee and assist it in rejoining the games.

South Africa - Banned from 1964 through 1988 games

The nation of South Africa was first banned from the Olympic Games by the IOC in 1964 for its refusal to condemn apartheid. As the Miami Herald explained, under the country’s apartheid laws, mixed-race sports teams were prohibited from competing together. The country did not make another appearance at the Olympics until 1992, when the games took place in Barcelona, and only after it repealed apartheid.

Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) - 1972 Munich Olympics

In 1972, just four days before the Olympic Games, the nation of Rhodesia was barred by the IOC. According to the BBC, the nation was barred after an outcry from other African nations calling for its expulsion. The country, they said, was an illegal regime and members of its team were therefore British subjects.

In 1980 the nation changed its name to Zimbabwe and held its first open elections and sent its first official athletes to the summer Olympics in Moscow.

Germany and Japan - 1948 London Olympics

In 1948, both Germany and Japan were barred from the London Olympic Games for their participation in World War II. The Soviet Union was invited to participate but turned the invitation down. This would mark the second time that Germany was barred from the games; the nation was also banned from competing in the 1924 Olympics in Paris due to its participation in World War I.

Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Hungary and Germany - 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp

Following the end of WWI, the losing side — including Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Hungary and Germany — were all banned from competing in the Olympic Games. The newly formed Soviet Union chose not to attend. That year, just 2,600 athletes representing 29 countries competed. In contrast, more than 11,000 athletes competed in the Rio Games, representing more than 200 National Olympic Committees.