Tropical nations at the Winter Olympics

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The team from Ghana during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In 2014, Michael Christian Martinez became the first Filipino, the first Southeast Asian, and the first tropical male figure skater in the Winter Olympics, as well as the first Philippine Winter Olympian in 22 years.

Several tropical nations have participated in the Winter Olympics despite not having the climate for winter sports. Partly because of that, their entries are a subject of human interest stories during the Games.[1][2][3] No tropical nation has ever won a Winter Olympic medal.

The first warm-weather, but not tropical, nation participating in the Winter Olympics was Mexico. Much of Mexico is at a latitude north of the Tropic of Cancer, and most of the country has a subtropical highland or semi-arid climate, so it is not exclusively a tropical nation. Nonetheless, Mexico made its Winter Olympic debut at the 1928 Winter Olympics[4] with a five-man bobsleigh team that finished eleventh of twenty-three entrants.[5] Mexico did not return again to the Winter Games until the 1984 Winter Olympics.[6]

The first truly tropical nation to compete in the Winter Olympic Games is the Philippines, who sent two alpine skiers to the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.[7] Ben Nanasca placed 42nd in giant slalom skiing (out of 73 entrants), and Juan Cipriano did not finish. In slalom skiing, neither skier was able to finish. Costa Rica became the second tropical nation to participate at the Winter Games, in the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York,[8] where Arturo Kinch also competed in alpine skiing events. Kinch would continue to compete for Costa Rica at three more Winter Games, including the 2006 Winter Olympics at age 49. There he finished 96th in the 15 km cross-country skiing event, ahead of only Prawat Nagvajara of Thailand, another tropical nation.[3][9]

The 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada attracted a large number of tropical nations, including Costa Rica, Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.[10] The Jamaican Bobsled Team became a fan favorite at these Games[11] and were later the inspiration of the 1993 motion picture Cool Runnings. In the 1994 Winter Olympics six years later, the Jamaican four-man sled placed a creditable fourteenth, ahead of the United States and Russia, while a Jamaican bobsledder Lascelles Brown won silver for Canada in 2006.

The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy marked the Winter Games debut of Ethiopia[2] and Madagascar.[12] The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada saw the debut of the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Peru,[13] and Ghana.[14] The 2014 Winter Olympics saw the debut of Dominica, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe. The 2018 Winter Olympics saw the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Singapore.

List of participating tropical nations[edit]

World map with tropical latitudes highlighted in red
World map with tropical climates highlighted in red

This list of nations includes those that lie entirely or predominantly[clarification needed] within the tropical latitudes and also have a mostly tropical climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Years of Winter Olympic Games participation are shown.

 Cameroon (CMR) 2002
 Eritrea (ERI) 2018
 Ethiopia (ETH) 2006–2010
 Ghana (GHA) 2010, 2018
 Kenya (KEN) 1998–2006, 2018
 Madagascar (MAD) 2006, 2018
 Nigeria (NGR) 2018
 Senegal (SEN) 1984, 1992–1994, 2006–2010
 Togo (TOG) 2014, 2018
 Zimbabwe (ZIM) 2014
 British Virgin Islands (IVB) 1984, 2014
 Cayman Islands (CAY) 2010–2014
 Dominica (DMA) 2014
 Jamaica (JAM) 1988–2002, 2010–2018
 Netherlands Antilles (AHO) 1988–1992
 Puerto Rico (PUR) 1984–2002, 2018
 Trinidad and Tobago (TRI) 1994–2002
 Virgin Islands (ISV) 1988–2006, 2014
Central and South America
 Bolivia (BOL) 1956, 1980–1992, 2018
 Brazil (BRA) 1992–2018
 Colombia (COL) 2010, 2018
 Costa Rica (CRC) 1980–1992, 2006
 Ecuador (ECU) 2018
 Guatemala (GUA) 1988
 Honduras (HON) 1992
 Paraguay (PAR) 2014
 Peru (PER) 2010–2014
 Venezuela (VEN) 1998–2006, 2014
 American Samoa (ASA) 1994
 Fiji (FIJ) 1988, 1994, 2002
 Guam (GUM) 1988
 Tonga (TGA) 2014-2018
 Hong Kong (HKG) 2002–2018
 Malaysia (MAS) 2018
 Philippines (PHI) 1972, 1988–1992, 2014-2018
 Singapore (SGP) 2018
 Thailand (THA) 2002–2006, 2014-2018
 East Timor (TLS) 2014-2018

Other warm-weather nations (located in the subtropics, for example) that have competed in the Winter Games include Australia (which has a tropical far north, and became the first and so far the only Southern Hemisphere nation to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2002), Bermuda, Chinese Taipei, Eswatini, Hong Kong, India (which contains a section of the Himalayas), Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay and several North African nations including Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.

Tonga sought to make its Winter Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics by entering a single competitor in luge, attracting some media attention, but he crashed in the final round of qualifying.[15] Two years later, he attracted media attention again when it was discovered he had altered his name to that of one of his sponsors, a lingerie firm, as a marketing stunt. He was, at that time, in training to attempt to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics.[16][17]

Notable winter Olympians from tropical nations[edit]

Philip Boit was the first Kenyan to participate in the Winter Olympics.
Lamine Guèye, the first Black African skier to take part in a Winter Olympics.
Name Nation Sport
Anne Abernathy  Virgin Islands luge
Bruno Banani  Tonga luge
Judd Bankert  Guam biathlon
Iginia Boccalandro  Venezuela luge
Philip Boit  Kenya cross-country skiing
Lascelles Brown  Jamaica[nb 1] bobsleigh
Edson Bindilatti  Brazil bobsleigh
Roberto Carcelen  Peru cross-country skiing
Isabel Clark Ribeiro  Brazil snowboarding
Cynthia Denzler  Colombia alpine skiing
Erroll Fraser  British Virgin Islands speed skating
Lamine Guèye  Senegal alpine skiing
Werner Hoeger  Venezuela luge
Errol Kerr  Jamaica freestyle skiing
Arturo Kinch  Costa Rica alpine skiing and cross-country skiing
Eric Maleson  Brazil bobsleigh
Michael Christian Martinez  Philippines figure skating
Andrew McNeilly  Trinidad and Tobago bobsleigh
Isaac Menyoli  Cameroon cross-country skiing
Renato Mizoguchi  Brazil luge
Jaqueline Mourão  Brazil biathlon and cross-country skiing
Prawat Nagvajara  Thailand cross-country skiing
Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong  Ghana alpine skiing
Raymond Ocampo  Philippines luge
Ricardo Raschini  Brazil bobsleigh and luge
Mathieu Razanakolona  Madagascar alpine skiing
Rusiate Rogoyawa  Fiji cross-country skiing
Leyti Seck  Senegal alpine skiing
Robel Teklemariam  Ethiopia cross-country skiing
Michael Teruel  Philippines alpine skiing
Laurence Thoms  Fiji alpine skiing
Dow Travers  Cayman Islands alpine skiing
George Tucker  Puerto Rico luge
Vanessa Vanakorn  Thailand alpine skiing
Hubertus von Hohenlohe  Mexico alpine skiing
Isadora Williams  Brazil figure skating
Pedro Causil  Colombia speed skating

Winter Paralympic Games[edit]

As of 2014, only two tropical nations have been represented at the Winter Paralympic Games.[18] Tofiri Kibuuka of Uganda competed in cross-country skiing at the inaugural edition of the Winter Paralympics in 1976 and again at the 1980 Games.[19] After Kibuuka obtained Norwegian nationality, he began to compete for Norway at the Paralympics starting in 1984, winning several medals in athletics at the Summer Paralympics. Brazil sent two athletes as part of its debut at the 2014 Winter Paralympics.

 Uganda (UGA) 1976–1980
 Brazil (BRA) 2014-2018
Name Nation Sport
Tofiri Kibuuka  Uganda cross-country skiing
Fernando Aranha  Brazil cross-country skiing
André Cintra  Brazil snowboard cross
Aline Rocha  Brazil cross-country skiing
Cristian Ribera  Brazil cross-country skiing

Winter Youth Olympic Games[edit]

Five tropical nations were represented at the First Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

 Eritrea (ERI) 2012
 Kenya (KEN) 2016
 Cayman Islands (CAY) 2012
 Brazil (BRA) 2012–2016
 Colombia (COL) 2016
 Jamaica (JAM) 2016
 Peru (PER) 2012
 Philippines (PHI) 2012
 Malaysia (MAS) 2016
 East Timor (TLS) 2016

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown competed for Jamaica in the 2002 Games, but has competed for Canada since 2006.


  1. ^ Brown, Gerry. "Beyond the Jamaican Bobsledders". Infoplease. Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Ethiopia first at Winter Olympics". BBC News. February 10, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2006.
  3. ^ a b Bunce, Steve (February 17, 2006). "The crazy race – only the potty need apply". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved January 31, 2008.[dead link]
  4. ^ Comité Olympique Suisse (1928). Rapport Général du Comité Exécutif des IImes Jeux Olympiques d'hiver (PDF) (in French). Lausanne: Imprimerie du Léman. p. 7. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Comité Olympique Suisse (1928). Résultats des Concours des IImes Jeux Olympiques d'hiver (PDF) (in French). Lausanne: Imprimerie du Léman. pp. 12–13. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  6. ^ Official Report of the Organising Committee of the XlVth Winter Olympic Games 1984 at Sarajevo (PDF). Sarajevo: Oslobodenje. 1984. pp. 89–90. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  7. ^ The Official Report of XIth Winter Olympic Games, Sapporo 1972 (PDF). The Organizing Committee for the Sapporo Olympic Winter Games. 1973. pp. 32, 145, 447. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  8. ^ Final Report XIII Olympic Winter Games (PDF). Ed Lewi Associates. pp. 6, 12, 19. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  9. ^ "Turin 2006 Winter Olympics – Cross Country Results". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on March 22, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (February 7, 1988). "'88 Winter Olympics; Calgary Has It Down Cold". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  11. ^ Harasta, Cathy (February 20, 1988). "Jamaican bobsledders want to dispel jokes about tropical entry in wintry sport". The Dallas Morning News.
  12. ^ "Madagascar prepares for its first winter Olympic appearance ever in Turin 2006" (PDF) (Press release). November 28, 2005. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  13. ^ Brewer, Jerry (February 4, 2010). "Peruvian cross-country skier Roberto Carcelén reaches Olympic dream". The Seattle Times.
  14. ^ Wyatt, Ben; Gittings, Paul (February 27, 2010). "Snow Leopard continues proud African tradition at Winter Games". CNN. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  15. ^ Hofman, Helene (February 1, 2010). "Tongan athlete narrowly misses out on Winter Olympics". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  16. ^ Kingston, Gary (December 2, 2011). "Tonga's chosen one takes aim at Sochi luging". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on December 4, 2011.
  17. ^ Tong, Andrew (February 5, 2012). "Outside Edge: Liar, liar, pants on fire in the snow". The Independent. Archived from the original on July 14, 2016.
  18. ^ "IPC Historical Results database". International Paralympic Committee.
  19. ^ Results for Tofiri Kibuuka from the International Paralympic Committee