South Africa

Overview

NOCSouth African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee
Flagbearers45

Participants

Olympic Games 964
Youth Olympic Games 120

Description

At the IOC session in The Hague on 23 May 1907 the British delegation proposed that “The four British Colonies, the Cape Province, Natal, the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal should be invited to take part in the Fourth Olympiad as South Africa”. The National Olympic Committee was formed on 3 January 1908. On 31 May 1910 the Union of South Africa became independent, but South Africa had already competed at the Olympics before, with the exception of the Intercalated Games of 1906, South Africa’s participation at the Olympic Games was continuous from 1904 through 1960. From 1964 to 1988, however, it was not allowed to compete at the Olympics. This was due to the country’s policy of apartheid and, in particular, its use of the policy in choosing its athletic teams, which is forbidden by International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy. It is ironic that the first South African Olympians were two Tswana tribesmen who ran in the 1904 marathon; named Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani, they were both black men.

The story of South Africa’s banishment from the Olympics is one of the most complex issues which has ever faced the IOC. South Africa did not always practice apartheid as a sporting policy. In the 1930s, there was frequent inter-racial competition, but in June 1956, a South African law was passed requiring an end to inter-racial sport. In 1958, IOC Member Olaf Ditlev-Simonsen of Norway informed IOC President Avery Brundage that his country would exclude an all-white South African team, if his nation were awarded the Olympics. In 1959, the Indians, Egyptians, and Soviets pressed the IOC for South Africa’s ouster from the Olympics, but the IOC was content with the promise that its 1960 Olympic team would be a multi-racial one. It was not.

In 1962, South Africa Interior Minister Jan de Klerk commented publicly that, “Government policy is that no mixed teams should take part in sports inside or outside the country.” The IOC could scarcely ignore this message. At the 60th IOC session in Moscow in 1962, the IOC voted to suspend the South African National Olympic Committee (SANOC) “… if the policy of racial discrimination practiced by the government … does not change before our Session in Nairobi which takes place in October 1963.” (this session was later moved from Nairobi to Baden-Baden after the Kenyan government refused to grant a visa to the South African delegate) SANOC was eventually suspended at the 62th IOC session in Innsbruck in January 1964.

Further problems arose in December 1966 in Bamako, Mali, when 32 African nations formed the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA). The SCSA’s stated purpose was to coordinate and promote sport, but its true objective was to attack South Africa’s apartheid policies in sport. At its founding conference, the SCSA resolved: “… to use every means to obtain the expulsion of South African sports organizations from the Olympic Movement and from International Federations should South Africa fail to comply fully with the IOC rules.”

In mid-September 1967, an IOC commission visited South Africa to inspect the sporting facilities and see if the South Africa sporting groups were in violation of Olympic principles. The commission consisted of three IOC Members: future IOC President Lord Killanin (Ireland), Reggie Alexander (Kenya – a white man), and Sir Adetokunbo Ademola (Nigeria – a black man). They presented their report to the IOC on 30 January 1968, and it was felt to be generally positive. By a mail ballot, the IOC voted to restore recognition to SANOC, allowing a multi-racial South African team to compete at the 1968 Olympics.

This prompted mass boycott demands from the African nations, which vehemently opposed this decision. The IOC Executive Board subsequently met in Lausanne, Switzerland on 20 April 1968, and decided to poll the IOC members. By a postal ballot of 47-17 (with eight abstentions), the IOC reversed its course and withdrew its recognition of SANOC, preventing a huge boycott of the 1968 Olympics. In May 1970, at the 70th IOC session in Amsterdam, the South African Olympic Committee was expelled from the IOC by a vote of 35-28, with three abstentions.

In 1976, the South African question again became prominent when several African nations boycotted in protest of a New Zealand rugby team’s having played several games on tour in South Africa. Ironically, rugby had not been an Olympic sport since 1924 and the New Zealand rugby team was named the All-Blacks.

In 1990, South Africa began to take steps to eliminate apartheid. In April 1991, the IOC, anticipating apartheid’s elimination, gave provisional recognition to the South African Olympic Committee. On 9 July 1991, the International Olympic Committee granted full recognition to the South African Olympic Committee, and lifted its 21-year ban on its participation in the Olympics. In 1992 at Barcelona, South Africa competed on the Olympic stage for the first time in 32 years. The nation’s return to the Olympics was celebrated fittingly when Elana Meyer, a white 10,000 metre runner, won the first medal since 1960, and celebrated it by running her victory lap hand-in-hand with the black winner, Derartu Tulu (ETH).

South Africa has competed in all Olympics since Barcelona, including all the Olympic Winter Games (it had previously only attended in 1960). It has won a total of 78 medals (23 golds), of which 25 were won in the post-apartheid era. Two South Africans have won two Olympic titles: tennis player Charles Winslow (1912) and swimmer Penny Heyns (1996). South Africa bid for the 2004 Olympics to be held in Cape Town, but was eliminated in the third voting round. After the successful 2010 Football World Cup, it is planning to bid again.

In 2011 the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee was awarded with the Olympic Cup.

Participated as

Edition Name
1904 Summer Olympics Cape Colony
1908 Summer Olympics Cape Colony
All other editions South Africa

Participations by edition

Edition Competition Type Men Women Total
1904 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 8 0 8 Results
1908 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 14 0 14 Results
1912 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 21 0 21 Results
1920 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 38 1 39 Results
1924 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 30 0 30 Results
1928 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 18 6 24 Results
1932 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 10 2 12 Results
1936 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 27 5 32 Results
1948 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 34 1 35 Results
1952 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 60 4 64 Results
1956 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 44 6 50 Results
1960 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 53 2 55 Results
1960 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 1 3 4 Results
1992 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 68 25 93 Results
1994 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 1 1 2 Results
1996 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 64 20 84 Results
1998 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 1 1 2 Results
2000 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 89 38 127 Results
2002 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 1 0 1 Results
2004 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 66 40 106 Results
2006 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 3 0 3 Results
2008 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 75 59 134 Results
2010 Summer Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 27 35 62 Results
2010 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 2 0 2 Results
2012 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 68 56 124 Results
2012 Winter Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 1 0 1 Results
2014 Summer Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 25 29 54 Results
2016 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 93 42 135 Results
2016 Winter Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 0 1 1 Results
2018 Winter Olympics Olympic Games 1 0 1 Results
2020 Winter Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 1 1 2 Results

Participations by discipline

Olympic Games

Discipline (Sport) Men Women Total
Alpine Skiing (Skiing) 3 0 3 Results
Archery 2 5 7 Results
Art Competitions 6 5 11 Results
Artistic Gymnastics (Gymnastics) 4 2 6 Results
Artistic Swimming (Aquatics) 0 2 2 Results
Athletics 170 42 212 Results
Badminton 8 5 13 Results
Baseball (Baseball/Softball) 24 0 24 Results
Beach Volleyball (Volleyball) 4 4 8 Results
Boxing 69 0 69 Results
Canoe Slalom (Canoeing) 6 0 6 Results
Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) 9 9 18 Results
Cross Country Skiing (Skiing) 1 0 1 Results
Cycling BMX Racing (Cycling) 2 0 2 Results
Cycling Mountain Bike (Cycling) 4 3 7 Results
Cycling Road (Cycling) 25 9 34 Results
Cycling Track (Cycling) 27 0 27 Results
Diving (Aquatics) 3 2 5 Results
Equestrian Dressage (Equestrian) 0 1 1 Results
Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) 2 0 2 Results
Equestrian Jumping (Equestrian) 1 1 2 Results
Fencing 6 9 15 Results
Figure Skating (Skating) 2 4 6 Results
Football (Football) 34 24 58 Results
Golf 2 2 4 Results
Hockey 52 44 96 Results
Judo 6 2 8 Results
Modern Pentathlon 5 1 6 Results
Rhythmic Gymnastics (Gymnastics) 0 2 2 Results
Rowing 44 9 53 Results
Rugby Sevens (Rugby) 13 0 13 Results
Sailing 32 3 35 Results
Shooting 34 2 36 Results
Short Track Speed Skating (Skating) 0 1 1 Results
Skeleton (Bobsleigh) 1 0 1 Results
Swimming (Aquatics) 58 34 92 Results
Table Tennis 1 1 2 Results
Taekwondo 1 0 1 Results
Tennis 21 5 26 Results
Triathlon 3 5 8 Results
Tug-Of-War 5 0 5 Results
Water Polo (Aquatics) 15 0 15 Results
Weightlifting 13 0 13 Results
Wrestling 22 0 22 Results

Youth Olympic Games

Discipline (Sport) Men Women Total
3x3 Basketball (Basketball) 4 0 4 Results
Alpine Skiing (Skiing) 2 2 4 Results
Artistic Gymnastics (Gymnastics) 2 2 4 Results
Athletics 11 11 22 Results
Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) 1 2 3 Results
Cycling Road (Cycling) 5 3 8 Results
Equestrian Jumping (Equestrian) 0 2 2 Results
Fencing 0 1 1 Results
Golf 1 1 2 Results
Hockey 0 16 16 Results
Hockey 5s 9 9 18 Results
Judo 0 1 1 Results
Rhythmic Gymnastics (Gymnastics) 0 2 2 Results
Rowing 0 2 2 Results
Sailing 1 1 2 Results
Shooting 1 0 1 Results
Swimming (Aquatics) 8 8 16 Results
Tennis 1 0 1 Results
Trampolining (Gymnastics) 1 1 2 Results
Triathlon 2 1 3 Results
Weightlifting 1 0 1 Results
Wrestling 4 1 5 Results

Medals by Games

Edition Competition Type Gold Silver Bronze Total
1912 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 4 2 0 6
2012 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 4 1 1 6
1920 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 3 4 3 10
1996 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 3 1 1 5
2016 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 2 6 2 10
1952 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 2 4 4 10
2010 Summer Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 2 4 3 9
1948 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 2 2 2 6
1932 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 2 0 3 5
2004 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 1 3 2 6
1924 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 1 1 1 3
1908 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 1 1 0 2
1928 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 1 0 2 3
2014 Summer Youth Olympics Youth Olympic Games 1 0 0 1
2000 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 2 3 5
1992 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 2 0 2
1960 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 1 2 3
1936 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 1 0 1
2008 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 1 0 1
1956 Summer Olympics Olympic Games 0 0 4 4

Medals by sport

Olympic Games

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Athletics 9 13 6 28
Swimming 6 6 6 18
Boxing 6 4 9 19
Tennis 3 2 1 6
Rowing 1 1 1 3
Cycling Road 1 1 0 2
Cycling Track 0 3 3 6
Art Competitions 0 1 1 2
Shooting 0 1 0 1
Canoe Sprint 0 0 1 1
Rugby Sevens 0 0 1 1
Triathlon 0 0 1 1

Youth Olympic Games

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Athletics 2 1 1 4
Swimming 1 3 2 6

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Charles Winslow RSA 2 0 1 3
Penny Heyns RSA 2 0 1 3
Caster Semenya RSA 2 0 0 2
Chad le Clos RSA 1 3 0 4
Bevil Rudd RSA 1 1 1 3
Roland Schoeman RSA 1 1 1 3
Harry Kitson RSA 1 1 0 2
Sid Atkinson RSA 1 1 0 2
Cameron van der Burgh RSA 1 1 0 2
Louis Raymond RSA 1 0 0 1
Dave Carstens RSA 1 0 0 1
Gerald Dreyer RSA 1 0 0 1
George Hunter RSA 1 0 0 1
Willie Smith RSA 1 0 0 1
Laurie Stevens RSA 1 0 0 1
Sal Walker RSA 1 0 0 1
Rudolph Lewis RSA 1 0 0 1
Joan Harrison RSA 1 0 0 1
Ryk Neethling RSA 1 0 0 1
Esther Brand RSA 1 0 0 1
Ken McArthur RSA 1 0 0 1
Josia Thugwane RSA 1 0 0 1
Reggie Walker RSA 1 0 0 1
Lyndon Ferns RSA 1 0 0 1
Darian Townsend RSA 1 0 0 1
James Thompson RSA 1 0 0 1
John Smith RSA 1 0 0 1
Sizwe Ndlovu RSA 1 0 0 1
Matthew Brittain RSA 1 0 0 1
Wayde van Niekerk RSA 1 0 0 1

Youth Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Chad le Clos RSA 1 3 1 5
Jacques du Plessis RSA 1 0 0 1
Gezelle Magerman RSA 1 0 0 1
Izelle Neuhoff RSA 0 1 0 1
Ruan Greyling RSA 0 1 0 1
Dylan Bosch RSA 0 0 2 2
Samantha McIntosh RSA 0 0 1 1
Rudolph Pienaar RSA 0 0 1 1
Pierre Keune RSA 0 0 1 1
Murray McDougall RSA 0 0 1 1

IOC Members

Sydney Farrar 1914—1919
Henry Nourse 1920—1942
Albert Lindbergh 1939—1939
Sydney Dowsett 1946—1951
Reginald Honey 1946—1982
Sam Ramsamy 1995—2018
Anant Singh Ji 2016—
Sam Ramsamy 2019—