A total of 311 athletes from 13 countries participated in the first Olympics, where the US placed first, defeating.
204 National Olympic Committees participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Not all of these committees represent a sovereign nation, however. Vatican City and Kosovo were two countries that did not participate, and Brunei (who does have a NOC) also did not participate in the Olympics that year. So in total, 192 countries participated in addition to 12 dependent/autonomous territories. The 2008 Beijing Olympics were the first Olympics that Serbia and Montenegro competed in separately, and were also the first Olympics for the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.
Japan first participated in the Summer Olympics in 1912. They have participated in all Summer Olympic since except for 1948 and 1980. They first participated in the Winter Olympics in 1928 and have been in all Winter Games except the 1948 Games. The 2008 Olympics is the 20th Summer Games Japan has participated in. They have been to 18 Winter Games.
I think the earliest that China was in the olympic games was in 1956. go search wikipedia for it and scroll down to the list of participating countries. Australia was involved in the very first of the modern Olympic games in 1896 (although this is a debatable point). They have participated in every Olympics since, one of only a couple of countries to do so.
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