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Sport Golden Goals: Countries still in pursuit of an Olympic medal ahead of Tokyo

05:45  25 july  2021
05:45  25 july  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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The United States leads all countries in Olympic medals. Despite boycotting the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, the U.S. has nearly 3,000 medals – close to double that of Germany, who comes in second.

But while the United States has had no difficulty collecting gold, silver and bronze throughout the years, some countries haven’t been so fortunate in achieving their golden goals. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes 206 National Olympic Committees (NOC) in addition to the Refugee Olympic Team, but over 70 countries that currently compete in the Games have never won an medal.

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From Monaco, a veteran of the Games, to South Sudan, officially recognized by the IOC in August 2015, here are some of the nations still looking to bring home an medal.

Which continent has the most countries without a medal?

Out of the 206 countries and territories with a NOC, there are 72 that have never won a medal at the Olympics. That includes both the Summer and Winter Games, and several of these records are impacted by when a country’s NOC was recognized by the IOC. For example, North Macedonia has officially never won a medal because they haven’t competed in any Olympics yet under the country's new name.

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Broken down by continent, Africa has the most countries – 28 – without a medal in the Games. While many of those are small territories and island nations, some of the countries without a win are Libya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

Behind Africa is Asia, home to 13 countries without an medal, followed by Oceania with 12. Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal are some of Asian countries that haven’t been able to break through at the Games, while Guam and Papua New Guinea are among the countries in Oceania still looking for a medal.

In Europe, Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina are the only non-microstates without an medal. Sarajevo, the capital of B&H, was the host city for the 1984 Winter Olympics, but the country has never won a medal since its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. B&H and Macedonia haven’t been able to replicate the success of their former Yugoslavian counterparts Croatia and Slovenia, both of which have over 40 medals.

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Bill Johnson et al. posing for a photo: Gold medal winner Bill Johnson (C) of the US is flanked by Peter M¸ller (L) of Switzerland and Anton Steiner (R) of Austria on the medals' podium for the men's downhill in Sarajevo 16 February 1984 at the Winter Olympic Games. © STAFF, AFP Gold medal winner Bill Johnson (C) of the US is flanked by Peter M¸ller (L) of Switzerland and Anton Steiner (R) of Austria on the medals' podium for the men's downhill in Sarajevo 16 February 1984 at the Winter Olympic Games.

Only one country in South America is still waiting for its first medal. Bolivia first competed in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin and swimmer Alberto Conrad Machuca was the country’s only Olympian. This year, the country will only be sending five athletes to Tokyo to compete in athletics, swimming and tennis.

No medals for Monaco

Well, technically, Monaco has one bronze medal. Julien Medecin came in third for architecture in the art competition at the 1924 Olympics, but those medals aren’t included in official tallies.

In athletic competition, Monaco has sent a small team to all but three Olympics since the NOC debuted in the 1920 Antwerp Games, making the southern European country – between France and the Mediterranean Sea, medal-less for over one hundred years.

It’s not for lack of trying, though. Monaco has sent several prolific athletes to the Games, including rifle shooter Fabienne Pasetti, who has appeared in six Olympics between 1988 and 2008. She was also the first woman to represent Monaco in the Games. The second female Olympian from Monaco was swimmer Angelique Trinquier, who competed in the 100m backstroke in London.

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Monaco will try for a medal – any medal – again in Tokyo. The NOC has six athletes in five events (athletics, judo, rowing, swimming, table tennis) and have a 50/50 split between men and women on the roster.

South Sudan set for country’s second-ever Summer Olympics

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011. Five years later, at the Rio Games in 2016, the country made its Olympic debut, sending three runners to compete in South America.

Prior to the 2016 Games, South Sudanese marathon runner Guor Maker competed at the 2012 London Games as an Independent Olympic Athlete. He finished 47th in London, and then dropped to 81st as a representative for South Sudan in 2016.

South Sudan will compete in Tokyo in a few days, but they have been in Japan far longer than any of their other competitors. Four track athletes and a coach from the world’s newest country have been stranded in Maebashi, a city northwest of Tokyo, since November 2019, when they arrived for the 2020 Olympics, which were still set to start in a little over six months.

Instead of forcing the team to return to South Sudan, a country still dealing with the repercussions of a civil war, Maebashi’s citizens embraced the team as their own. They raised donations of nearly $300,000 to support the training of the South Sudan track team.

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Now, athletes like 21-year-old Abraham Majok, who runs the 1500m, are competing to foster unity in his divided country.

No chance for North Korea

North Korea announced it would not compete in the Tokyo Games, citing coronavirus concerns as the reason for pulling out. This marks the first Summer Olympics that North Korea will miss since 1988, when the Games were hosted by Seoul in South Korea. Missing out on medals is no problem for North Korea, which already has over 50 since the country first competed in the 1972 Games.

Contact Alyssa Hertel at ahertel@usatoday.com or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Golden Goals: Countries still in pursuit of an Olympic medal ahead of Tokyo

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