Facts and figures

The Netherlands in 2015:

  • 17 million inhabitants
  • 9 million people active in sport
  • 76 national sport federations, members of NOC*NSF
  • 11 other members of NOC*NSF
  • 24,000 sport clubs
  • 5,300,000 members of sport clubs
  • 1,500,000 volunteers in sport
  • 5,000 commercial sport providers 


Sport is a popular pastime in the Netherlands. It is part of everyday life for millions of Dutch people, who actively perform sport themselves and cheer on their sport favourites. Sport offers not only great entertainment, but also benefits wider society. There is increased recognition of sport’s contribution to health, education, social inclusion and cohesion, economic development and a country’s international profile. Investments in sport are considered investments in society as well.

A growing number of people take part in sport. Around 9 million people (out of a population of almost 17 million) participate in at least one sport on a regular basis. There are approximately 4,600 Dutch elite athletes who earn (part of) their living by doing their sport, as well as 26,000 paid coaches (about 8,000 FTEs). Among the most popular sports in the Netherlands are football, tennis, golf, speed skating, field hockey, swimming, cycling, running and fitness training.

The Netherlands boasts 24,000 non-profit sports clubs, which represent 5.3 million members. In addition, the country has over 5,000 commercial sport providers, such as fitness centres and horse riding schools. These clubs and commercial providers make use of almost 8,000 sport facilities throughout the country. On top of that, almost 1.5 million Dutch people are involved in sport as volunteers. The total amount of unpaid work carried out in the sports sector is more than 50,000 FTEs.

Our athletes perform well at the highest international level. For example, the Netherlands ranked 12th on the medals table of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and ranked 13th on the medals table of the 2012 London Olympics. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, the Dutch took 19th place with 5 golds, 10 silvers and 7 bronzes. The Netherlands ranked 10th on the medals table of the 2012 London Paralympic Games.