Puerto Rican teams compete at the Olympics. They have done so since 1948, when boxer Juan Venegas earned a bronze medal. The Island has sent a team to every Summer Olympics event since then, and has also competed in several Winter Olympics contests.
There are other Olympics teams that don’t represent actual present-day countries: American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Guam, Aruba, and the Refugee Team.
Olympics officials have said that Puerto Rico’s political status is not an issue for eligibility for an Olympics team.
Surfing will be one of the events in this year’s Olympic games, and Hawaiian surfers applied to have a team specifically from the State of Hawaii (their application was in the name of the Kingdom of Hawaii). The International Olympic Committee did not accept their application. Congress did not discuss the question.
No other U.S. State has applied for an Olympics team.
Puerto Ricans can and do participate as members of the United States team, as well. Tennis player Gigi Fernandez, a strong statehood supporter, won two gold medals in tennis for the United States.
Jack Lopez, born in Puerto Rico, will play baseball for the United States this year.
U.S. athletes have won 2,828 medals, the largest number by far for any nation. Puerto Rico has taken home nine medals, six of which were awarded for boxing. Monica Puig, won the first gold medal for Puerto Rico in 2016.
There are also Puerto Rican athletes born and living in the States who represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics.
This year, Team Puerto Rico includes Jada Stinson, a Kentucky native of Puerto Rican heritage. She played for Arkansas State and recently transferred to Illinois State before joining the Puerto Rican National basketball team. This is the first time Puerto Rico has sent a women’s basketball team to the Olympics.
Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage will also play basketball. Her grandmother lives in Puerto Rico, making her eligible for the team, even though she and her parents live in New Mexico. Dartmouth student Isalys Quiñones is another member of the women’s basketball team.
In all, there will be 37 athletes representing Puerto Rico in sports including baseball, swimming, table tennis, golf, judo, sailing, wrestling, shooting, skateboarding, tae kwon do, and diving. Andres Arroyo, Ryan Sanchez, and Wesley Vazquez will compete in track and field events. Yankiel Rivera Figueroa will represent Puerto Rican boxing. Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy will compete in equestrian events.