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7 of the strangest Olympic Events

The Olympics are a competition of the highest standards across a range of exacting sports, and involvement in the games offers much respect and prestige. But, have you ever wondered what sports get cut from the exclusive list? It isn’t just the athletes that fight to be chosen to compete, but also the sports themselves need electing.

Here, we have put together a list of the 7 more unusual sports to have been cut from the Olympic schedule.

Solo Synchronized Swimming

Reading it twice still doesn’t seem to clear up the clear contradictions in its name. How can somebody possibly be judged for staying synchronized with themselves? Yet, this sport featured in three summer Olympic Games (1984, 1988 and 1992), and involves one swimmer performing a coordinated routine to music.

Plunge for Distance

Its 1904 Olympic debut also served as its only appearance at any games. The sport involves diving into water, and then allowing your body to glide through the water with no propulsion to the body from arms or legs. The total distance travelled after 60 seconds is then measured. Only 5 participants took part in the sport, all from America (and coincidently all from the New York Athletic Club), with the Olympic World record being set at 62 feet 6 inches.

Club Swinging

Featured in 1904, this is a form of artistic gymnastics. It involved competitors choreographing a routine with bowling pin styled batons in each hand, and was essentially a sport resembling rhythmic gymnastics - but with much more rigid props.

Live pigeon shooting

Even the name itself is enough to make you cringe. The 1900 Paris Games were the only ones to feature this morbid event, and in all, nearly 300 pigeons were killed. It is safe to say that the bloody battlefield the events took place on were not a keen favourite with viewers, and ultimately led to its immediate termination as a sport in the games.

Swimming obstacle course

Only featured in the 1900 Paris Games, this 200 metre race involved swimmers climbing over a pole and a row of boats before swimming under another row of boats. Given the difficulty of swimming itself, and the competitor’s lack of vision, it doesn’t seem the smartest idea to put obstacles in their course.

Roller Hockey

Introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, only 12 nations entered a team.

Rope climbing

Olympic gymnastics once involved rope climbing, although this was removed after the 1932 games. The event meant that competitors could only use their hands and upper body strength to leverage them, and the test was one of time.


Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.