In 2020, the International Olympic Sports Committee announced that they would introduce breakdancing as an Olympic sport from the year 2024. However, this decision made people question whether that was the right call, as breakdancing is not seen as a sport by many.
But this wasn’t the first time they introduced an odd sport at an Olympic event. Since it started in Athens in 1896, The Olympic Games have had some questionable sports that didn’t make it in the long run. Let’s look at some of the strangest Olympic sports that will surprise you.
From 1900 to 1920, Tug-of-War was a distinguished Olympic sport. What was interesting about this sport was that countries were allowed to enter multiple teams. Thus, they could win more than one medal for the same sport.
The United Kingdom and the United States took advantage of this rule, so they managed to win gold, silver, and bronze in 1904 and 1908. We no longer have tug-of-war in the Olympics, and it’s improbable they will reintroduce it.
Men’s Club Swinging
Men’s club swinging was an intricate gymnastics event held at the 1904 and 1932 Olympics. The whole point of this event was to hold an Indian club in each hand and spin it around your head and body to create a complex gymnastic routine.
The clubs resembled elongated bowling pins, and the moves were hard to maneuver. By 1932, only four participants were in this event, making that year its last appearance.
Running Deer Shooting
Running deer shooting even had quite a few years of running. It was held from 1908 to 1924 and resurfaced from 1952 to 1954. The competitors had to shoot at deer cutouts from 330 feet. The deer cutouts would run approximately 246 feet in four seconds.
They all moved in concentric circles, the one in the middle scoring the most points. Participants used a 22 caliber, also called 5.6 mm, specially developed for deer hunting. Oscar Swahn, a Swedish participant, won the gold medal at 64, making him the oldest Olympic winner. However, nobody managed to break his records, not even today.
There were only eight gymnastics events at the 1896 Olympic event, one of which was men’s rope climbing. To be able to compete, you need to have excellent upper-body strength. Men had to climb a 46-foot-long rope unequipped, just using their hands.
At the first rope climbing event, there were five participants, and only two managed to climb the rope. Over the years, rope climbing appeared four more times until this sport got canceled.
Live Pigeon Shooting
Live pigeon shooting debuted in 1900 at the Paris games. Over 300 pigeons were shot and killed in that event. Spring boxes were placed in the middle of a fenced enclosure to release the pigeons. Participants needed to time their shoot so the dead pigeon would fall into the ring. Otherwise, they didn’t get any points.
If you missed two birds in a row, you would get eliminated. It was a competitive sport; the prize was 20,000 francs, which would be approximately $120,000 in today’s money. Unfortunately, the live pigeon shooting was only held that year, and it will probably never make a comeback.
Plunge for Distance
Plunge for distance was yet another unsuccessful Olympic sport that didn’t make it to the current times. It was held at the 1904 Olympic Games and involved diving from a stationary position. You then needed to glide underwater without making any other movement for one minute. Whoever glided the furthest won the race. It was a very unpopular sport.
Many other sports at the Olympic Games didn’t make it today. Most got discontinued because they were unpopular with the viewers and didn’t have many participants.
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