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5 Former Olympic Sports

August 1, 2016

There are dozens of Olympic events, but there’s only so much time and space. Here are some sports that were once, but are no longer, part of the Olympic games.


What is skijoring, exactly? It’s a combination of equestrian, dog sledding, and skiing. Human athletes strap on skis, and let horses pull them through the snow, and whoever crosses the finish line the fastest wins. This was a demonstration event at the 1928 Winter Olympics in Switzerland, but it wasn’t popular enough for the International Olympic Committee to make it an official event and hold it again.

Motor boating

In 1908, speedboat racing was introduced into Olympic competition. But they were held in London, where even in summer the weather gets a little dicey. A storm hit during the first big day of competition. Out of nine scheduled races, six were cancelled. In the three races that actually happened, only one boat managed to finish in each. The fastest boat topped out at 19 mph. Ultimately, the IOC decided that all sports involving motors weren’t as athletic as other sports and did away with the event.
Motor Boating 2

Tug of war

Believe it or not, the playground game was a regular part of the Olympics in the first two decades of the 20th century. Teams of five to eight entered, and countries would routinely enter more than one team, which explains how the U.S. won the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 1904 Olympics.
Tug of war

Pigeon shooting

Only once—at the 1900 Olympics in Paris—did the Summer Games involve killing live animals. Pigeons were released, and the shooter had to gun down as many as possible; two misses, and they were out. Gold medalist Leon de Lunden of Belgium shot 21 birds.

Dueling pistol shooting

An actual duel would’ve caused quite a sensation, but not even in the early days of the Olympics (where shooting birds was fine) were athletes allowed to shoot at each other. At the first modern Olympics in 1896, competitors shot at dummies with targets painted onto their chests.
Duelling pistol shooting

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