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The Soviet Union first participated at the Olympic Games in 1952, and competed at the Games on 18 occasions subsequently. At six of its nine appearances at the Summer Olympic Games, the Soviet team ranked first in the total number of gold medals won, it was second by this count on the other three. Similarly, the team was ranked first in the gold medal count seven times and second twice in nine appearances at the Winter Olympic Games. Soviet Union's success might be attributed to a heavy state's investment in sports to fulfill its political agenda on an international stage.[1]

Soviet Union at the
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg
NOCSoviet Olympic Committee
Ranked 2nd
Summer appearances
Winter appearances
Other related appearances
 Russian Empire (1900–1912)
 Estonia (1920–1936, 1992–)
 Latvia (1924–1936, 1992–)
 Lithuania (1924–1928, 1992–)
 Unified Team (1992)
 Armenia (1994–)
 Belarus (1994–)
 Georgia (1994–)
 Kazakhstan (1994–)
 Kyrgyzstan (1994–)
 Moldova (1994–)
 Russia (1994–2016)
 Ukraine (1994–)
 Uzbekistan (1994–)
 Azerbaijan (1996–)
 Tajikistan (1996–)
 Turkmenistan (1996–)
 Olympic Athletes from Russia (2018W)
NOC symbol of the USSR

Following the Russian Revolution of November 1917 and the Russian Civil War (1917-1922), the Soviet Union did not participate in international sporting events on ideological grounds;[2] however, after World War II (1939-1945), attendance at the Olympic Games came to be seen by Soviet officials and leaders as a useful method of promoting Communist ideals.[3]The Olympic Committee of the USSR was formed on April 21, 1951, and the IOC recognised the new body in its 45th session (May 7, 1951). In the same year, when the Soviet representative Konstantin Andrianov became an IOC member, the USSR officially joined the Olympic Movement.

The 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki thus became first Olympic Games for Soviet athletes. On July 20, 1952 Nina Romashkova won the first Olympic gold medal in the history of Soviet sport, competing in the women's discus throw. Romashkova's result in this event (51.42 m) was the new Olympic record at that time.

The 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo became the first Winter Olympic Games for Soviet athletes. There Lyubov Kozyreva won the first Winter Olympic gold medal in the history of Soviet sport, competing in the women's cross-country skiing 10 km event.

The USSR became the host nation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The United States and many other countries boycotted these Games in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; the USSR led a boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

Although the USSR ceased to exist on December 26, 1991, The Olympic Committee of the USSR formally existed until March 12, 1992, when it disbanded.

In 1992, 7 of the 15 former Soviet Republics competed together as the Unified Team and marched under the Olympic Flag in the Albertville Games, where they finished second in the medal rankings. The Unified Team also competed in the Barcelona Games later in the year (represented by 12 of the 15 ex-Republics), and finished first in the medal rankings at those Games.

All Summer and Winter Olympic medals of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire were inherited by Russia, but not combined together[by whom?] with the medal count of the Russian Federation.

Hosted GamesEdit

Soviet Union has hosted the Games on one occasion.

Games Host city Dates Nations Participants Events
1980 Summer Olympics Moscow 19 July – 3 August 80 5,179 203

Unsuccessful bidsEdit

Games City Winner of bid
1976 Summer Olympics Moscow Montreal, Canada

Timeline of participationEdit

Date Team
1900–1912   Russian Empire (RU1)
1920   Estonia (EST)
1924–1936   Latvia (LAT)   Lithuania (LTU)
1952–1988   Soviet Union (URS)
1992–   Unified Team (EUN)   Estonia (EST)   Latvia (LAT)   Lithuania (LTU)
1994–   Armenia (ARM)   Belarus (BLR)   Georgia (GEO)   Kazakhstan (KAZ)   Kyrgyzstan (KGZ)   Moldova (MDA)   Russia (RUS)   Ukraine (UKR)   Uzbekistan (UZB)
1996–   Azerbaijan (AZE)   Tajikistan (TJK)   Turkmenistan (TKM)

Medal tablesEdit

*Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Keys, Barbara J. (2006), Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, ISBN 0-674-02326-9 (p. 159)
  3. ^ O'Mahony, Mike (2006), Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture--Visual Culture, Reaktion Books Ltd, London, ISBN 1-86189-267-5 (p. 19)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit