Why does the United Kingdom field a team for each of its constituent “provinces” while other nations are limited to a single team?
The Explainer at Slate gives an answer, plus other bonus trivia:
The International Olympic Committee recognizes the United Kingdom as a single country with the right to send one team to the games.
…In mid-century, however, the governing bodies of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland became concerned that they were losing their soccer independence through a shared Olympic team and withdrew. The United Kingdom has not participated in Olympic soccer in more than 30 years.
An effort to resolve the dispute for the 2012 London games achieved only a partial success: There will be a U.K. team, but only Englishmen will take the field.