Rhodesia (RHO)


NOCNational Olympic Committee of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland


Olympic Games 12


In 1953, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formed. It consisted of the colonies Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Of these three, Southern Rhodesia had earlier appeared at the Olympics in 1928, but the new federation founded its own National Olympic Committee. The nation first participated in the 1960 Roma Olympics, sending a team of 14 competitors. It narrowly missed out on a medal in sailing’s Flying Dutchman class. London-born David Butler and Christopher Bevan placed 4th.

This would remain the only appearance of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland at the Olympics. The federation dissolved in 1963, and the now independent Northern Rhodesia competed separately in Tokyo (it changed its name to Zambia during the Games). Southern Rhodesia also competed, but confusingly did so under the name Rhodesia. In 1980, it would re-appear at the Games under its new name of Zimbabwe. Nyasaland, finally, became independent as Malawi, and first appeared at the Olympics in Munich 1972.

However, between 1968 and 1976 Rhodesia controversially did attempt to compete at the Olympics. On 11 November 1965, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian D. Smith announced his nation’s unilateral declaration of independence from Great Britain. Britain termed the act illegal and demanded that Rhodesia broaden voting rights to provide for eventual rule by majority Africans. In May 1968, the United Nations Security Council condemned the white-dominated Rhodesian government, asking that Rhodesian passports not be accepted for international travel. Rhodesia did not compete at the 1968 Olympics, one reason being that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not recognize its independent status, another being that Mexico honored the UN Security Council ruling.

At the 71st IOC session in Luxembourg in 1971, the IOC ruled that Rhodesian athletes could compete at the 1972 Olympics under the same conditions as in 1968 – using British uniforms, the Union Jack as a flag, and with “God Save the Queen” as an anthem. Initially, this placated the African nations, but shortly before the 1972 München Olympics, African nations threatened a mass boycott if Rhodesia was allowed to compete. Two days before the 1972 Opening Ceremony, the IOC voted narrowly (36-31, with three abstentions) to withdraw the invitation to Rhodesia for the 1972 Olympic Games.

In 1975, the IOC sent a three-member contingent to visit Rhodesia to inspect the sporting facilities and groups. Led by Major Sylvio de Magalhães Padilha of Brazil, this commission of inquiry was not kind to Rhodesian sports, and the IOC expelled the Rhodesian Olympic Committee, by a 41-26 vote.

After a civil war and eventual free elections, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980, and has since competed at the Olympic Games under that name.

Participations by edition

Olympic Games

Edition As Men Women Total
1960 Summer Olympics Rhodesia 7 5 12 Results

Participations by discipline

Olympic Games

Discipline (Sport) Men Women Total
Boxing 4 0 4 Results
Diving (Aquatics) 0 1 1 Results
Sailing 2 0 2 Results
Shooting 1 0 1 Results
Swimming (Aquatics) 0 4 4 Results