Select Page

The IOC came under fire when it added skateboarding to the Tokyo Olympics and introduced breakdancing to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Before every Olympic Games, several new sports are typically added. Breakdancing and skateboarding aren’t the only surprising additions to the event.

From the beginning of the Olympic Games in 1896, many odd sports have been introduced. Some were only briefly featured, while others were not officially recognized. Here is a list of surprising sports held at the Olympic Games.

Tug of War

From 1900 to 1920, tug-of-war was a part of the Olympic program. Participating nations could enter multiple clubs, which allowed them to win various medals. The US and Great Britain won gold, silver, and bronze medals in 1904 and 1908, respectively.

Solo Synchronized Swimming

In 2021, the event known as synchronized swimming was renamed to artistic swimming. It involves two individuals performing a routine with their chosen music. The Olympics previously featured solo synchronized swimming during the 1984 and 1988 Games.

Pistol Dueling

In 1906, the Olympics featured a sport known as pistol shooting, which involved shooting at dummies. It was an unofficial event, and in 1908, the competitors fired their guns at each other. Although no one was hurt, the bullets used were made of wax, and the duel participants wore protective masks.


In 1900, the Olympics featured the first sport that featured women as competitors. Although it was very popular then, only ten people participated in the tournament, and only one spectator was allowed to watch. It didn’t return to the Olympics, but a variation of the game known as “roque” was introduced during the 1904 Games.

Plunging for Distance

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the sport of plunge for distance diving became very popular. In 1904, it was introduced as an official event at the Saint Louis Olympics. The goal of the game was to glide across the water without moving. The person who traveled the farthest won the competition.

Horse Long Jump

In addition to tug-of-war, obstacle swimming, and Croquet, there were several other unusual events. One of these was the horse long jump, an adaptation of an athletic event. The jumps in the equestrian event were shorter than those used in the men’s long jump. In the regular competition, Kraezlein secured the win with a jump of around 23 feet. The other competitor, a Belgian officer named Constant van Langhendonck, won the event with a jump of approximately 20 feet.