Backstage News

The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 4-20 in Beijing, where more than 80 tropical nations will be part of the Games. For the participating athletes, just qualifying is a huge feat as no athlete from a tropical country has ever won a medal in the Winter Olympics.

To learn more about Winter Olympics athletes from warm-weather regions, Stacker curated a list of 18 tropical countries scheduled to participate this year. Tropical countries are found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Countries with borders that overlap the tropical and non-tropical regions are regarded as partially tropical. Puerto Rico, although not an independent country, is included on the list because it has a separate Olympic committee from the United States.

Jamaica’s iconic bobsled team, depicted in the Disney movie “Cool Runnings,” may come to mind when you think of athletes from warm-weather countries defying the odds to compete in a winter sport. Then there’s the story of Alpine skier Shannon-Ogbani Abeda, born in Canada after his parents fled war in their home country of Eritrea. Abeda will represent Eritrea at the Winter Games.

For many of these athletes, it’s more than just adapting to a frigid environment by wearing extra layers of clothing. There are other factors, especially for those just starting out, such as purchasing equipment, which is often costly; finding places to train, which requires leaving tropical countries for colder places for the outdoor-sports athletes; and of course, attracting funding from sponsors. Several athletes, such as Kellie Delka, have turned to family and friends for help to financially fulfill their Olympic dream.

A qualification system for athletes is in place for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Additionally, Beijing will enforce COVID-19 testing measures for Winter Games participants that require at least two negative pre-departure tests, testing upon arrival at the airport, and daily PCR testing.

Keep reading to learn more about the tropical countries competing at this year’s Winter Olympics.

  • Bolivia

    Quinn Rooney // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    To date, Bolivia is the only South American country whose athletes have never won an Olympic medal. During the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing, Bolivia will be represented by Austrian-born Simon Breitfuss Kammerlander, set to compete in the Alpine skiing events. Timo Juhani Gronlund from Finland will represent Bolivia in the cross-country skiing category.

    [Pictured: Flag bearer Simon Breitfuss Kammerlander of Bolivia leads out his country during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Brazil

    MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

    – Partially tropical

    Brazil made its Olympic debut in 1920 during the Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium. Athletes won gold, silver, and bronze medals, all in shooting sports. This year, Brazilian athletes will compete in five sports: cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, freestyle, skeleton, and bobsled. Jaqueline Mourão, a 46-year-old cyclist and cross-country skier, will compete in the Olympic games for her eighth time and has made history as the first Brazilian woman to compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Bruna Moura and Manex Silva will join Mourão at the cross-country skiing venue. The bobsled team has the highest number of Brazilian representatives with Edson Bindillati, Edson Martins, Erick Vianna, Rafael Souza, and Jefferson Sabino.

    [Pictured: Brazil’s Edson Bindilatti leads his team in the four-man bobsleigh heat 3 run during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Colombia

    Richard Heathcote // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Colombia will have representation in the disciplines of Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and speed skating. Michael Poettoz will compete in the Olympics for the third time and is the first man to represent Colombia in Alpine skiing. Carlos Quintana will compete in cross-country skiing and Laura Gomez, a speed skater, will be participating in her second Winter Olympics.

    [Pictured: Pedro Causil of Colombia competes during the Men’s 1,000 m at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Ecuador

    FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Ecuador made its debut in the Winter Olympics in 2018 in cross-country skiing. This year at the Winter Games in Beijing, Sarah Escobar will be the first woman to represent the country as she competes in Alpine skiing. The first Olympic medal to be won by an Ecuadorian was by a racewalker at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

    [Pictured: Ecuador’s Klaus Jungbluth Rodriguez crosses the finish line during the men’s 15 km cross-country freestyle during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Eritrea

    Matthias Hangst // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    In 2018, Eritrea participated in the Winter Olympics for the first time in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Eritrea made its Olympic debut in 2000 at the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Shannon-Ogbnai Abeda, an Alpine skier who lives in Canada, will represent the country at the Winter Games this year.

    [Pictured: Flag bearer Shannon-Ogbani Abeda of Eritrea and teammates arrive at the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Ghana

    Matthias Hangst // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Utah-based athlete Akwasi Frimpong made history in 2018 when he became the first-ever skeleton athlete from Ghana to compete in the Olympics. Frimpong lives in Utah but has been training in Russia for several weeks. He has been coping with an Achilles injury but will not let that stop him from pushing for his dream.

    [Pictured: Akwasi Frimpong of Ghana trains during the Mens Skeleton training session on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Haiti

    FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Haiti will make its Winter Olympics debut at the 2022 Games, a huge feat for the small Caribbean Island beset by intense poverty and recent natural disasters. Haiti will be represented by 19-year-old Alpine skier Richardson Viano. Viano will be joined by teammate Mackenson Florindo, who will act as a reserve in the event Viano is injured or unable to compete. Haiti first appeared in the Olympics in 1900 at the Summer Games in Paris.

    [Pictured: Haiti’s Richardson Viano competes in the Men’s Slalom at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italian Alps.]

  • India

    KERSTIN JOENSSON/AFP via Getty Images

    – Partially tropical

    Alpine skier Mohammad Arif Khan will carry his country’s flag as the sole athlete from India. The 31-year-old is India’s first athlete to qualify for two different Olympic events—the slalom and giant slalom—at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Khan is currently training in Austria.

    [Pictured: India’s skier Mohammad Arif Khan at a training session in the Kuhtai racing camp, near Innsbruck, Austria, on Jan. 7, 2022.]

  • Jamaica

    Clive Mason // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Jamaica, known for producing the fastest sprinters in the world, is making history again. For the first time ever, athletes from the land of Bob Marley and Usain Bolt will compete in three bobsled events at this year’s Winter Olympics. The Caribbean island’s bobsled team made its debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Alberta, Calgary, and their underdog story inspired the 1993 movie, “Cool Runnings.” British-born international DJ-turned-athlete Benjamin Alexander is also making his mark in history for the Caribbean nation by becoming Jamaica’s first Alpine skier. Alexander, who is of Jamaican lineage, will be the only Alpine skier to represent the island at the 2022 Games.

    [Pictured: Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell of Jamaica compete in the Women’s Bobsleigh at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Madagascar

    Quinn Rooney // Getty Images

    – Partially tropical

    The people of Madagascar, the second-largest island country in the world, are hoping to make history at the 2022 Winter Games. After several years of participating in the Olympics, Madagascar has never won a medal. Alpine skier Mialitiana Clerc became the first woman to compete for Madagascar, her country of birth, at the 2018 Winter Olympics and plans to represent it again at the upcoming Games.

    [Pictured: Flag bearer Mialitiana Clerc of Madagascar leads her country out during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Malaysia

    Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Malaysia, widely known for its coastal beaches, would seem like an unlikely contender in any winter sport, but the Southeast Asian country is just that. Malaysian athletes first appeared in a Winter Olympics at the 2018 Games and will try for a medal again at this year’s Games. Among those returning will be Jeffrey Webb, who will represent the country again in Alpine skiing, and teenager Aruwin Salehhuddin, who will be the first Malaysian woman to ever ski at the Games for Malaysia. Salehhuddin has been training in Croatia.

    [Pictured: Jeffrey Webb of Malaysia in action in Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom, at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Mexico

    Linnea Rheborg // Getty Images

    – Partially tropical

    Although Mexican athletes have participated in several Winter Olympics, none have won any medals. Sarah Schleper, an Alpine skier who is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, will represent Mexico at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Schleper, a mother of two, married a Mexican citizen in 2009 and has been competing for Mexico since obtaining dual citizenship in 2014. Donovan Carrillo, born in Zapopan, Mexico, will be the first Mexican figure skater to compete for his country at a Winter Olympics since 1992. Carillo has been training at an undersized rink inside a shopping mall in León, Mexico.

    [Pictured: Donovan Carrillo of Mexico performs at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships on March 28, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden.]

  • Nigeria

    Matthias Hangst // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Samuel Ikpefan, a French-born cross-country skier, will represent Nigeria in this year’s Winter Olympics. Ikpefan is the first male athlete to represent Nigeria in the Winter Games on the heels of a series of historical milestones, including being the first Nigerian to compete in the 2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Germany and the 2021 World Cup in Sweden. His father was born in Nigeria.

    [Pictured: Flag bearer Ngozi Onwumere of Nigeria and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Peru

    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Peruvian athletes first appeared in the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014 and will be at the Games again this year. Ornella Oettl Reyes, born in Germany, will represent Peru, her mother’s native country, in Alpine skiing. In February, the daily average high temperature in Lima, Peru, (where it’s summer) is 80 degrees, so her Peruvian fans will be literally sweating over her performances.

    [Pictured: Peru’s Roberto Carcelen holds up his national flag as he reaches the finish line in the Men’s Cross-Country Skiing 15 km Classic at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 14, 2014.]

  • Philippines

    DDIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    The Philippines is known for its abundance of beaches and exotic fruits, a far cry from anything related to winters in northern climes. But sports fans in the Southeast Asian country are hoping that Asa Miller, the nation’s sole representative in Beijing, will make his mark. Miller will compete in the slalom and giant slalom events.

    [Pictured: Philippines’ Asa Miller competes in the Men’s Giant Slalom during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on Feb. 18, 2018.]

  • Puerto Rico

    Al Bello // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Puerto Rican athletes appeared in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1984 and will be sending two athletes to the 2022 Games in Beijing. Kellie Delka, a skeleton athlete originally from Texas, will represent Puerto Rico, where she’s lived for several years. So will William Flaherty, who is just 17, in the slalom and giant slalom events. Delka and Flaherty will be co-flag bearers in the opening ceremony.

    [Pictured: Charles Flaherty of Puerto Rico in action in Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom, at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Thailand

    Matthias Hangst // Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    Four Thai athletes qualified to compete in the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February. Siblings Karen and Mark Chanloung, dual citizens of Italy and Thailand, previously represented the Italian national team. They will compete in cross-country skiing. Nicola Zanon and Mida Jaiman will represent Thailand in Alpine skiing. Thailand participated in the Winter Games for the first time in 2002.

    [Pictured: Flag bearer Mark Chanloung of Thailand and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.]

  • Trinidad and Tobago

    CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP via Getty Images

    – Fully tropical

    After a 20-year hiatus, Trinidad and Tobago will field a two-man bobsled team at the Winter Games. This time, the duo will be Andre Marcano and Axel Brown. Sure, comparisons have been made to Jamaica’s “Cool Runnings” story, and the Caribbean countries are longtime rivals in track and other sports, but the “T&T” competitors are determined to create their own bobsled story.

    [Pictured: Trinidad’s Gregory Sun and his teammate speed down the ice channel during a two-man bobsleigh training during the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games.]