The history of olympic football has always been rather awkward, and still today, the position of olympic history is very strange: something in between a semi-youth tournament supplemented with some star players.
For the first Olympic games, when there was no world cup, the Olympics were considered like the world cup, dominated by Europeans. This was just until unknown Uruguay in 1924 blew all Europeans away, and the groundwork was laid for the first world cup in 1930 in Uruguay. Then, for many years, olympic football became the ground of amateurs, dominated by Eastern Europeans, who had "state amateurs".
In general, it was a bore, and no competition with the World Cup: one can also see this in relation to countries that were the best in the world, were not to be seen in the Olympics: Brazil, England, West Germany, Argentina... (with only possible exception of some Eastern European countries).
Over the last years this has started to change, and the allowing of new players has made the tournament a bit more interesting, although some participating nations still only show off with a secondary youth team.
The great exceptions for these Olympics in Beijing are Brazil and Argentina. Argentina are defending champions from 2004, and Brazil is keen on winning its first gold ever in football. They therefore have shown up with very strong teams, and are by far the favourites to win the whole thing.
Nevertheles, because olympic football is such a bore, one doesn't know what may happen. However, I may add that it is not really worth bothering with games in the first rounds, until the semi-finals, unless you are from one of the countries playing.
|1900 Paris||Great Britain||France||Belgium|
|1904 St. Loius||Canada||United States|
|1908 London||Great Britain||Denmark||Netherlands|
|1912 Stockholm||Great Britain||Denmark||Netherlands|
|1964 Tokyo||Hungary||Czechoslovakia||East Germany|
|1968 Mexico City||Hungary||Bulgaria||Japan|
|1976 Montreal||East Germany||Poland||USSR|
|1980 Moscow||Czechoslovakia||East Germany||USSR|
|1984 Los Angeles||France||Brazil||Yugoslavia|
|1988 Seoul||USSR||Brazil||West Germany|