What about athletes not belonging to a country, or from a country not yet an official member of the IOC? In recent years, there have been several examples of athletes competing independent of a country. In 1992 a team competed under the banner 'Independent Olympic Participants'. In 2000, East Timorese athletes competed as 'Individual Olympic Athletes', and in 2012 athletes from South Sudan and the former Netherlands Antilles competed as 'Independent Olympic Athletes'.
During the 1992 Summer Olympics, athletes from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Macedonia competed as Independent Olympic Participants. Macedonian athletes could not appear under their own flag because their NOC had not been formed, while The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was under United Nations sanctions. The athletes were not permitted to compete in team sports such as basketball, handball, or water polo, and the Olympic flag was used in medal ceremonies. Three athletes won medals in 1992 as Independent Olympic Participants, all in shooting. There were 58 competitors (39 men and 19 women), competing in 54 events in 13 sports.
Four athletes from East Timor competed as Individual Olympic Athletes at the 2000 Summer Olympics. These athletes competed under the Olympic flag. The best result was by weight lifter Martinho de Araujo, who placed 20th in the men's weightlifting.
Athletes from the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles, which was dissolved in 2011, were able to compete in 2012 as Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA) under the Olympic flag. Also an athlete from the newly formed country of South Sudan was able to compete as an Independent Athlete. The Independent Athletes in 2012 from Antilles (all from Curaçao) were: Reginald De Windt (Judo), Liemarvin Bonevacia (400m), and Philipine van Aanholt (Sailing), and from South Sudan Guor Marial (Marathon).
A team of Independent Olympic Athletes competed in Rio. The team was composed of Kuwaiti athletes, competing under the Olympic flag because the Kuwait Olympic Committee had been suspended by the International Olympic Committee for the second time in five years due to governmental interference. Also, a small group of refugees comprised of athletes displaced from their home country competed at the Rio Olympics as part of a team of "Refugee Olympic Athletes" (ROA).
- Yugoslavian Shooter Jasna Šekarić and table tennis player Ilija Lupulesku are the only athletes to compete under four different flags at the Olympic Games. They both competed for Yugoslavia at Seoul in 1988, then under the Olympic flag as Independent Olympic Participants at Barcelona 1992, then represented the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (later called Serbia and Montenegro) at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. In Athens 2004, Šekarić again represented Serbia and Montenegro while Lupulesku became an American citizen and competed for the USA. In 2008 and 2012 Šekarić competed for Serbia following Montenegro's independence.
- In 2016, shooter Fehaid Al-Deehani became the first independent athlete to win a gold medal.
- Independent Olympic Participants at the Winter Olympics
- List of all countries that have participated at the Olympic Games.
- Independent Athletes at the Winter Olympics