Summer meets Winter : African nations participating at the Winter Olympics, 1960–2018 / Cobus Rademeyer

Rademeyer, Cobus

A record number of eight African countries competed at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea despite Africa being regarded as one of the hottest continents in the world. The continent’s almost complete lack of snow or ice weather conditions is the most obvious hurdle to African Winter Olympic hopefuls. Although athletes from this continent compete successfully at the summer Olympics, very few African countries send teams of athletes to compete at the winter Olympics on a consistent basis. By 2014 less than a quarter of the fifty-four countries in Africa had ever competed at the Winter Olympics, yet the history of African countries participating at the Winter Olympics dates back almost six decades. The first appearance of an African country at the Winter Olympics was at the 1960 games in Squaw Valley, USA, when South Africa participated for the first time. Since 1984, at least one African nation has competed at each subsequent Winter Olympics. The lack of climate for winter sports, such as bobsleigh, skiing and snowboarding, limits the level of participation in Winter sports. However, globalization and the relatively limited access to tertiary institutions in Africa have brought young African athletes in contact with many forms of winter sport while studying or working abroad, predominantly in the northern hemisphere.

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