The Soviet Union first participated at the Olympic Games in 1952, and competed at the Games on 18 occasions since then. At six of its nine appearances at the Summer Olympic Games, the team ranked first in the total number of medals won, it was second by this count on the other two. Similarly, the team was ranked first in the medal count seven times and second twice in nine appearances at the Winter Olympic Games.

The Olympic Committee of the USSR was formed on April 21, 1951, and was recognized by the IOC on its 45th session (May 7, 1951). In the same year, when the Soviet representative Constantin Andrianov became an IOC member, the USSR officially joined the Olympic Movement.

The USSR was the host nation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. These Games were boycotted by the United States and many other countries, and subsequently, the USSR led a boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.