With the Russian Track and Field team recently banned from the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, I'm wondering if any athlete has ever won medals, gold on particular, under the Olympic flag in the Winter or Summer Games.

Athletes normally compete under the flag of the country they're from, but complications can lead to an athlete competing independently under the Olympic flag.

If independents have won medals, why did they compete independently? If an athlete is of Olympic medal-winning calibre, why wouldn't any country want the athlete to compete for them?

2 Answers 2


[As of 2016]: 4 Independent Olympic athletes have won Olympic medals at the 1992 & 2016 Olympics. 3 of them were Yugoslavian (Barcelona 1992) and one from Kuwait (Rio 2016) and all the medals were in Shooting.

the medalists are:

  1. Fehaid Al-Deehani, Gold medal in Men's double trap.
  2. Jasna Šekarić, Silver medal in Women's 10 m air pistol.
  3. Aranka Binder, Bronze medal in Women's 10 m air rifle.
  4. Stevan Pletikosić, Bronze medal in Men's 50 m rifle prone.

There are many reasons why athletes will compete independently, e.g.:

  1. Political transition
  2. International sanctions
  3. Suspensions
  4. Geopolitical changes

The reason Al-Deehani compete under the Olympic flag is that the Kuwait Olympic Committee has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee due to governmental interference.

The reason the Yugoslavian medalists compete under the Olympic flag is:

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was under United Nations sanctions which prevented the country from taking part in the Olympics. However, individual Yugoslav athletes were allowed to take part as Independent Olympic Participants.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Olympians_at_the_Olympic_Games

  • -1. This is less information than the older answer, and is still lacking for the same reasons.
    – Nij
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 5:07

There has only been one instance where the Independent Olympians, as they are called, have won medals, which was in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, where 3 Yugoslavian athletes won medals in Shooting.

During said Olympics, athletes from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia competed as Independent Olympians. Yugoslavia being under UN sanctions at the time could not participate in the Olympics, while Macedonia have yet to establish their National Olympics Committee (NOC) back then.

There have been more instances where Independent Olympians have appeared because of some issues with their home countries that prevent them from being represented in the Olympics.

  • -1: there are several (dozen) cases of medal-winners under the Olympic flag. You even reference some of the events yourself, e.g. Spanish or Italian winners in 1980. Upvote when fixed.
    – Nij
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:49
  • 1
    @nij there aren't several dozen of cases, only 4 cases, do you have another proof for your comment?
    – Dor Cohen
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 12:56
  • The proof is in your own reference. Athletes under the Olympic flag, competing as independents, have won medals. Al-Deehani and al-Rashidi are clearly listed!
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 0:42

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