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Discontinued Olympic Sports: 14 Events Dropped From the Summer Games

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Since the beginning of the Olympics in Greece in 1896, several sports have been part of the game. While some are the cornerstone of the event, others are no longer part of the program. In this post, we’ll list the discontinued Olympic sports and explain why they aren’t part of the games.

Croquet

Croquet equipment. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

Croquet was only played at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris and hasn’t been on the calendar since. It was the first Olympic sport in which women participated. The French dominated the individual and double events, winning gold in both. The game is believed to have originated in Ireland and popularized in England. 

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Tug of War

A demonstration of tug of war. Photo by Edmond Dantès

The Tug of War survived six Olympic editions, with its first appearance at the 1900 Paris Olympics and its last in Antwerp in 1920. It was classified under the track and field sports. A team of eight pulled each other on either side and the one that pulled the opponent six feet won. 

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Arts Competition

When The Olympics had Art Competitions. Video Credit: The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered

Arts was part of the Olympics from 1912 to 1948. It involved literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, and music. The founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Pierre de Coubertin won an Olympic gold medal in literature. Most of the participants breached the Olympic rules of only requiring amateurs to participate hence its removal.

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Cricket

Eden Gardens under floodlights during a match. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

It’s bizarre that one of the most popular sports in the world isn’t part of the Olympics. Cricket featured once in the games, 1900, but a lack of participation led to its removal. In 1900, the All-Paris team was largely formed by British expatriates and it was the last time the sport appeared in the games.

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Jeu de Paume

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Jeu de Paume, or real tennis, featured in the 1908 London Olympics. The game preceded tennis and was played indoors with wooden racquets and balls. Jay Gould II was the gold medalist and Britain took the silver and bronze medals.

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Lacrosse

A lacrosse game between Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto Rock vs Albany Attack. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

This is one of the discontinued Olympic sports. It featured in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics. In 1928, 1932 and 1948 games, lacrosse featured as a demonstration sport. The Canadian team won gold and the Mohawk Indians from Canada won silver. In the 1908 games, Canadians won gold and Great Britain silver.

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Motorboating

Motorboating is no longer an Olympic sport because the games focus on human achievement while the sport relies heavily on mechanical equipment. Competitors made five laps in an eight-nautical miles course. France and Britain won the medals.

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Pelota

2013 Basque Pelota World Cup. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Pelota was an Olympic sport in 1900. It’s played by hitting a ball against a wall. The only countries to win a medal are Spain and France. In 1992, pelota was included in the Olympics as a demonstration sport.

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Racquets

Great Britain was the only team that sent a team to the 1908 event. The finals of the sport didn’t happen after one of the contestants withdrew because of a hand injury. This was the only Olympic Games racquets featured.

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Polo

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polo Masters 2013. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

Polo is an expensive sport. The fact that horses couldn’t be transported to the 1904 games speaks volumes. The United States failed to send a team in 1980 for the same reason. Additionally, in 1900, there weren’t enough skilled players, hence four mixed teams participated. In its last appearance, Argentina won the gold medal.

Roque

Roque adds to our list of discontinued Olympic sports. It made its Olympic debut in 1904, which was popular in America. It was the only country that had participants in the 1904 Olympics, so you can tell that the lack of competitors might have been the reason it was dropped.

Aeronautics

Also referred to as gliding, it was once part of the Olympic program in 1936. It was a demonstration sport, meaning there wasn’t a competition between participants. A pilot was launched from a bungee. 

Although no competition happened, the Swiss pilot Hermann Schreiber received a gold medal after flying through the Alps in 1935. The sport had a chance to become an official Olympic Sport in 1940, but the games were cancelled because of World War II. 

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Solo Synchronized Swimming

A swimming pool. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-3.0

The contradiction of this sport didn’t do it any favors. A solo swimmer performed in a pool and the argument was she was synchronizing with the tune. The sport was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Seoul and the Barcelona Games. After, it became a team event and garnered a lot of popularity.

Baseball

A baseball stadium. Photo by Tim Gouw

Baseball has been cancelled and reintroduced in the Summer Olympics. It last featured in the Tokyo 2020 but will not be one of the events at the Paris Games. Baseball was first confirmed as an Olympic sport in 1992 but was dropped in 2012. Major League Baseball (MLB) players are allowed to play but often shy away because it coincides with the MLB season.

Which discontinued Olympic sports would you like to have back in the program? They were removed many years ago and these sports have evolved. Cricket would have a huge following, perhaps polo and arts. However, I’m not sure how many people would consider art an Olympic sport.

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.

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