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Countries Participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London

11 Non-Countries Are Participating in the 2012 Summer Games

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Flags of Countries Participating in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Flags of 200 nations are displayed on Regent Street on June 15, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Updated May 15, 2014
The media reports that there are 204 "countries" competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London but with only 196 countries in the world, how does that work out? Allow me to explain.

All but three of the 196 independent countries of the world are participating in the Olympic Games, thus there are 193 independent countries participating in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

In addition to the 193 independent countries, there are eleven territories or other entities that have been permitted by the International Olympic Committee to have their own National Olympic Committee (NOC). By having an independent NOC, each of these eleven places is able to compete in the Olympic Games and plans on sending athletes to London for the 2012 Summer Games there.

Thus, the total of 193 independent countries and 11 territories equals the number 204 that is being thrown about as the number of "countries" competing in the Summer Games.

Three Independent Countries Not Participating in the Olympic Games

South Sudan

South Sudan is the world's newest country. South Sudan became independent from Sudan last year, in July 2011. South Sudan quickly became a member of the United Nations in 2011, enabling the country to establish a National Olympic Committee. Unfortunately, the war-torn country has been unable to develop a NOC in the short time since independence so the country's few athletes will not be able to compete in London.

Kosovo

Kosovo is the world's second newest country and does not yet have complete international recognition. Even though Kosovo established their Olympic Committee of Kosovo (OCK) in 2003 and declared independence in 2008, their ongoing dispute with Serbia as to their status has prevented Kosovo from having an official National Olympic Committee and thus Kosovars are unable to participate in the 2012 Summer Games.

Vatican City/Holy See

Despite its internationally recognized independence, the Vatican City does not have a National Olympic Committee and has not publicized any aspirations to form one in order to compete in the Olympic Games.

Non-Countries Participating in the Olympic Games

These are the eleven non-countries participating in the 2012 Summer Games. These entities have National Olympic Committees and therefore are able to participate in the Olympic Games. I have included the reason that each entity is not a country in parenthesis.

Two Interesting NOC Cases

On an interesting note, the territory formerly known as Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010 and subsequently lost its status as an official National Olympic Committee in 2011.

Unfortunately, for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Brunei was unable to register their two athletes on time and therefore did not participate in the Summer Games. Fortunately, they have managed to field a team for the 2012 Summer Games in London!

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