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Historic Medal Tracker methodology

With the lack of an official medal count by country, differences abound

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Latest: Friday September 15, 2000 09:41 PM

The Olympic medal totals displayed by our Historic Medal Tracker are based on records provided by the Agence France-Press news service.

This metal count may vary widely from other Olympics medal totals. Here's why: The International Olympic Committee does not officially recognize national medal totals, nor recommend using one way of assigning medals by country over another. The original Olympic charter forbade a medal count that included a "ranking per country."

Also, early official Olympics reports, up until at least 1920, are ambiguous and incomplete. From 1896 to 1906, athletes entered the Olympic Games as individuals, not as members of a national team. Athletes from different countries would also join one another during team sports, regardless of their national origin.

In addition, those who tied for medals were not forced into a play-off situation. The very practice of awarding medals - rather than simply assigning places -- did not begin until 1904.

One example -- duing polo competition at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, Great Britain tied with the United States for first place; tied with the United States and Spain for second place; and with France for third place.

In this instance the Agence France-Press attributed a gold, a silver and a bronze medal to Great Britain; a gold and a silver medal to the United States; a silver medal to Spain; and a bronze medal to France.

Some other of the decisions made in determining medals awarded by country for's Historic Medal Tracker are as follows:

∑ At the Rome Olympics in 1960, Syria and Egypt competed together under the banner of the "United Arab Republic." The two medals obtained were by an Egyptian boxer and an Egyptain wrestler. Both medals were also counted in Egypt's total tally. ∑ During the same year, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad competed together under the "Antilles" banner.

∑ At the Olympics in 1908 and 1912, Australia and New Zealand competed under the banner of Australasia. The medals won were counted uniquely for Australasia and not for either Australia or New Zealand. ∑ For Germany, who over the course of the Olympic Games has been known at various times as Germany, FRG and GDR, the medals tally has not been totaled, but left intact and attributed to the country it was officially known as at the time. ∑ The medals won at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona by athletes from the Community of Independent States (CIS) have not been attributed to the ex-USSR, of which the CIS is the geopolitical heir.

∑ Likewise, Yugoslavia has not been attributed the medals won by those athletes who, while Yugoslavia was prevented from participation, competed under the banner of "Independent Olympic Participants." ∑ Medals won in demonstration sports have not been added to the medal count by country.

These are some of the factors that went into assigning medals by country for the Historic Medal Tracker, which may differ widely from other Olympic medal totals.

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