The Quick Report

15 Sports You Didn’t Know Were in the Olympics

Over the years, the Olympics have hosted hundreds of unique events ranging from every corner of the wide world of sports. Some of the events have been a little surprising, and others have just been downright odd. Here are 15 sports you didn’t know were in the Olympics!

Sport Climbing

person in white tank top rock climbing
Photo by Rahadiansyah via Unsplash

Sport climbing is essentially a variety of rock climbing that can be scored in a competitive setting, ranging from boulder, lead, and speed disciplines. It debuted at the Tokyo games in 2020 and will appear again in 2024 at the summer games in Paris.


person doing kick flip trick
Photo by shawn henry via Unsplash

Skateboarding originated in the 1950s in California as a way for surfers to translate their culture onto land. The sport finally reached the Olympic games in 2020, and will return to Paris in 2024. The celebration of the individuality and expression of the sport is inspiring.

Rope Climbing

brown rope on black metal fence
Photo by İpek Dükel via Unsplash

Until 1932, everyone’s least-favorite activity from gym class was an Olympic sport. Athletes in the rope climbing contest were tasked with racing up a 25-foot rope and being the first to ring the bell. That’s it! The first one to the top takes home the gold.

Ski Mountaineering

man ice skiing on hill
Photo by Maarten Duineveld via Unsplash

The complicated and far-ranging sport of ski mountaineering is returning to the Olympics in 2026 in Milano Cortina after last appearing in 1948. Ski mountaineering involves using skis to navigate real mountain terrain, and the Olympic event will include sprints and relay races.

Roller Speed Skating

black and white lace up shoes
Photo by Ambroise NICOLAO via Unsplash

Have you ever seen an athlete hit upwards of 30 mph while on roller skates? If not, you have to watch the roller speed skating events during the 2024 Olympics. Seeing the precise, fast-moving competitors zoom up banked walls is awe-inspiring.


Image via Openverse

Perhaps the most dangerous sport ever authorized by the Olympic Committee was seen at the Winter Olympics in 1928. During the Skijoring event, athletes on skis were pulled along behind horses and graded on their speed. It’s not surprising that this one hasn’t made a comeback.

Marathon Swimming

person diving under water
Photo by Anastasios Agathangelou via Unsplash

Marathon swimming takes athletes out into natural waters to compete in tricky, ten-kilometer courses with lots of complicated environmental hazards. Interestingly enough, before 1908 all Olympic swimming events took place in rivers, lakes, and seas because the swimming pool hadn’t been invented yet!


Image via Openverse

From 1900 to 1920, countries sent multiple tug-of-war clubs to compete in perhaps the goofiest sport the Olympics ever hosted. Bizarrely enough, countries could also win multiple gold medals in this sport if their different clubs all won their bouts.


man holding ball while jumping near three mne
Photo by Miguel Puig via Unsplash

Handball has appeared sporadically in the Olympics, including in 1936, 1952, and finally as a permanent fixture in 1972. While the sport is mostly popular in Europe, it’s gaining players in regions like Brazil, South Korea, and North Africa.

All-Around Dumbbell Contest

unknown person holding black dumbbell
Photo by Eduardo Cano Photo Co. via Unsplash

In 1904, Oscar Osthoff took home the gold for… doing dumbbell curls. Yeah, the All-Around Dumbbell Contest was an odd event! Athletes were scored based on their performance with a variety of exercise movements. Very strange stuff!


man doing breakdancing on gray surface
Photo by Michael Afonso via Unsplash

Yes, you read that right. Breakdancing is an Olympic event! This sport was first seen at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 and will make its full debut in Paris in 2024. As a huge element of hip hop culture, this sport’s appearance in the Olympics speaks to how far it’s come from its block party origins.

Horse Long Jump

person ringing white horse during daytime
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge via Unsplash

The horse long jump was an event featured at the last Olympics event held in Paris in 1920. As you might expect, it involved jockeys on horses who performed long leaps. Suffice it to say, it’s unlikely that we’re going to see a horse long jump at the 2024 Paris Olymics.


white bird flying during daytime
Photo by Stephan Rothe via Unsplash

Everyone knows about Olympic tennis, but did you know that badminton is also an Olympic event? It’s true! Like its cousin game, badminton is defined by its precision, tactical maneuvering, and elegant movements. It’ll have 172 athletes in Paris in 2024!

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man surfing during daytime
Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Olympic surfing finally debuted at the summer games in Tokyo in 2020, fulfilling a lifelong dream for many surfers. The event will be held during the Paris 2024 events, though it will take place at Teahupo’o in Tahiti instead of in France. Choosing the right venue is tricky, because surfing requires big waves!

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Pistol Dueling

Target Board
Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

Here’s perhaps the strangest Olympic event of them all, which was on display during the 1906 games. Luckily, pistol dueling didn’t result in any of the participants being shot. Instead, it was an accuracy contest in which the gunslingers would draw and fire at human-shaped targets at varying distances.

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