The original Olympic charter forbade medal counts
that include a ranking per country
(read more). But many media do publish
medal counts. All of them are inofficial - so is the present one.
The European entry is the sum of the gold counts of all EU members as of 2006.
Since Germany is the legal heir of the
German teams 1896-2006, we sum their gold counts.
Rare participations 1956-1988 explain the USSR's performance
(note that today's Russia is not the legal heir of the former USSR).
See also: 2004 medal count.
Even more gold for the EU as a single entity?
In the 20th century
nearly half of all gold medals went to Europe,
which is not surprising as it is home of most
world record holders and champions in Olympic disciplines.
But in team competitions (4 x 100m relays, football, etc.)
Europe cannot simply
form a superb team by assembling the best athletes of all EU nations.
Hence often some non-EU team wins, although it could not
expect to beat the EU all star team.
On the other hand, the EU nations currently
send more athletes than a unified EU would send.
Although the top-ranked favorites usually get the gold,
this increases the chances that some second rate EU
athlete wins gold just by accident in case all
favorites fail to deliver.
How often does this happen?
Could such occasional luck make a significant
difference in the overall gold count?
All time per capita rankings must take into
account historic census data 1896-2006, since nations
have grown at varying speeds.
Such rankings are
dominated by Norway (5 million inhabitants as of 2006)
and East Germany (16 million in the 1980s).
Compare: Germany: 80 million (2006), USSR: 270 million (1980),
US: 300 million (2006), EU: 490 million (2006).
The Olympics as a European invention
are biased towards popular European sports.
An alternative bias towards, say, popular Asian sports would probably
yield a different picture.
J. Schmidhuber, 2006
all time gold count updated 2008;
all time gold count updated 2010.