Which is the most populous country never to have won an Olympic medal?

In short, Bangladesh, with a population of approximately 169 million at the last count, is the most populous country never to have won an Olympic medal. Of course, Bangladesh did not declare independence from Pakistan until March, 1971, having previously been part of British India until August, 1947.

As an independent country, Bangladesh did not participate in the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, Montreal in 1976 or Moscow in 1980, having joined 64 other nations in boycotting the latter in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, 1979. However, Bangladesh has sent at least one athlete to every Summer Olympics since 1984 – albeit relying, largely, on Olympic wildcard places, rather than direct qualification – making a total of ten so far. Unsurprisingly, Bangladesh has never participated at the Winter Olympics.

All told, a total of 49 Bangladeshi athletes have competed in archery, athletics, golf, gymnastics, shooting and swimming but, on the whole, have underperformed at the games. That said, golfer Mohammad Siddikur Rahman qualified, by right, for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, thereby becoming the first Bangladeshi to do so; he did, however, finish last but one of the 59 players to finish the Olympic tournament. At th 2020 Summer Olympics, archer Mohammad Ruman Shana did likewise, but was eliminated by Briton Tom Hall in the last 32 of the men’s individual event and, alongside partner Diya Siddique, and by the South Korean pair Kim Je-deok and An San – who went on to win the gold medal – in the mixed team event.

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