Athletes from Somalia, Liberia, South Sudan and Bhutan face greater challenges than distance to reach Olympic Games

Dominican team
Thea Lafond is one half of the Dominican team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

An astounding 11,400 athletes will travel from more than 200 countries to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In all, 20 nations will be represented by three or fewer athletes – including Afghanistan, Belize, Gambia and South Sudan – nine will be represented by only two competitors, and one country will be represented a sole athlete.

Sprinter Etimoni Timuani will carry the flag at the opening ceremony for the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu – the smallest delegation destined for Rio de Janeiro.

If you are looking to cheer on an underdog at the Games, these 10 minnows might provide some inspiration.


Who to watch: Etimoni Timuani, 24, a profesional footballer in the Tuvalu A-Division is competing at Rio 2016 in athletics in the men’s 100m sprint.

Capital: Funafuti  Language: Tuvaluan, English and dialects Population: 10,600

Beach party: Tuvaluans eat coconut and dance to live music at celebrations known as fateles. 

Make small talk wth Timuani: Comprised of nine islands, Tuvalu ranks as the fourth smallest country on the planet in terms of land mass, and was formerly known as the Ellice Islands before gaining independence from Great Britain in 1978. Tuvalu means “eight standing together,” according to Tuvalu Online, and the nation is also the source for .tv, a coveted internet domain.