The Weirdest Sports Cut from The Olympics
Billions of us worldwide tune in every four years to watch our favourite memorable Olympic events. Yes, billions: an incredible 4 billion people from 206 countries are expected to watch the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games!
It’s clear we’re all looking forward to our favourite Olympic events. But have you ever wondered about the sports that didn’t make the final cut?
We researched events that have been discontinued from the Olympics alongside search trend data to discover the most unusual Olympic Games sports ever! From the weird to the obscure, to the almost forgotten, read on to learn the Olympic sports that didn’t strike gold.
Years Included: 1936
Current Monthly Search Interest: 0
Field handball is exactly what it says on the tin: handball in a field. Introduced to the Olympics in 1936 and eliminated ever since, field handball was swiftly replaced by its more popular and well-known counterpart, indoor handball.
However, it does remain popular in certain corners of the globe. Field handball is most loved in São Tomé & Príncipe, Cape Verde and Mozambique.
Years Included: 1908
Current Monthly Search Interest: 60
The 1908 Olympics featured not one but three motorboat racing events, for which Team GB won two gold medals (although admittedly the only other participating nation was France.)
Since then, water motorsports have been abolished from the event on the basis that the Olympics is for physical competition, not motorised.
Years Included: 1900
Current Monthly Search Interest: 530
Basque pelota is instantly recognisable by its strange racket, which can only be described as looking like a large shoe-horn. During the 1900 Games, Spain won gold in Basque pelota against their only competitor, France.
One of the stranger sports ever included in the Olympics, Basque pelota has declined in popularity over the past 100 years. In the past 15 years alone, interest in Basque pelota has fallen 77%, and it only appeared in the Olympics as an official sport once.
Jeu de Paume
Years Included: 1908
Current Monthly Search Interest: 3,900
Jeu de paume is the precursor to tennis. Superseded in popularity by the modern version, jeu de paume only appeared once at the Olympics, in 1908, when the US beat their only competitor, Team GB, to gold.
Globally, jeu de paume has declined nearly 60% in popularity over the past 15 years alone. However, it remains a sports staple in French-speaking countries, primarily France, Réunion, Tunisia, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Years Included: 1920
Current Monthly Search Interest: 5,900
For those who love gymnastics at the Olympics, vaulting takes this to the next level. Described as gymnastics and dancing on horseback, vaulting only appeared once at the Olympics, in 1920, when Belgium won gold and bronze against France (silver) and Sweden (runners up).
Vaulting’s popularity has halved over the last 15 years. Its biggest following is in Germany, Venezuela and Austria.
The Weirdest Sports Cut from The Olympic Games
While the above are our top five weird and obscure sports eliminated from the Olympic Games, this list isn’t exhaustive! Here’s the full list of sports that haven’t quite made the cut:
Figure skating and ice hockey have also been cut from the summer Olympics, but only so they could be rescheduled to the winter games.
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