Weirdest Olympic Sports In History

There were some weird sports events that were held at the Olympics - we bring you the ones that are the most intriguing and even controversial.

The Olympic Games have a very long tradition, with the first games being organized in the 8th century BCE. The era of the modern Olympic Games began in 1896 after the official Olympic committee was established. There were some weird sports events that were held at the Olympics, and we bring you the ones that are the most intriguing and even controversial

5. Biathlon

Skier in biathlon competitions.

The reason why this sport made the list is because of how weird is the combination of disciplines that are used in biathlon. This sport is being held only in the Winter edition of the Olympics, and it is a combination of cross-country skiing and, hear this - rifle shooting! The snowy courses are full of ups and downs, making them exceptionally physically challenging for any athlete. But, once the athletes reach one of four shooting zones, they take out their air rifles and have to shoot the five targets that are 50 m away.

4. Croquet

A game of Croquet on the Bishop's Palace lawn. Credit: Bewickswan /

Croquet is a game that started its tradition as a way of the bourgeoisie had some fun in the front yards. In this game, which can be played by 2, 4, or 6 players, the goal is to hit the ball with a wooden hammer-like bat through the small rims that are on the ground. The first side who finishes the course of 6 obstacles - wins. Sounds fun enough, right? Well, not quite. 

This event was held only once, in the 1904 Olympics in France. The French hosts took gold in all played categories. However, in the next Olympics, the event was immediately canceled. Reason: only one spectator showed up!  

3. Trampolining


Who does not like to jump on a trampoline when you get a chance? Well, no one! To jump up and down on a big trampoline and perform various tricks in the air is as tricky as any other gymnastic discipline. Trampolining has been an official Olympic sport since the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000.

The first gold winners in both men and women categories came from Russia as Alexander Moskalenko and Irina Karavaeva both won the singles competition. 

2. Tug Of War

Team competing in tug of war.

You had probably played this game when you were just a kid, or on weekend picnic parties with the family. Two groups of people grab the same rope and try to pull the opposing group across the line that was drawn in the middle. This rope-pulling event was a part of the Olympic event program for quite some time, from 1900 to 1920. 

The Tug of War rules on the Olympics was simple: two teams of eight men were pulling the rope for five minutes, trying to bring their opponents across the middle line. If the 5 minutes expired, the judges would check who managed to pull the other team more and would declare a winner. The most successful team in this event was the Milwaukee Athletics Club who competed for the US, winning gold in the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis, Missouri. 

1. Pigeon Shooting

Pigeon shooting.

Unfortunately, real animals were used in the Olympic games held organized in Paris in 1904. This contest is simple and brutal as it sounds - pigeons were released from small boxes to fly up into the air, as they were shot by the contestants. In the 1900 Olympic Games that were organized in Paris, France, more than 300 pigeons were shot dead from the sky. The winner of the competition was the Belgian called Leon de Lunden, who took down 21 pigeons in the finals. Fortunately, the use of live pigeons was soon banned by the International Olympic Committee, and they were replaced with targets made of clay. 

About the Author

Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.


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