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Tokyo 2020

A look at all the defunct sports events at the Olympics

Less than two months away from the Tokyo games, let us go back in Olympic history to see what all sports events were there back then and how or why they were discontinued over the years.

Olympics Defunct Events Tokyo Olympics

Discontinued Olympic sports (Source: Ranker.com)


Abishek Sadanandam

Updated: 12 Jun 2021 12:46 PM GMT

The first modern Olympic games started in the year 1896 in Athens, Greece. Since then, many sports have been added, and a lot of events have been removed based on the socio-political and cultural contexts as well as based on their relevance amongst the masses.

In this article, we will see the sports that had been part of the summer Olympics at some point in time but were discontinued due to some reason or the other.


Croquet was contested only once at the Olympics in the 1900 games. 7 men and 3 women participated across 3 competitions such as One-ball singles, two-ball singles and doubles. It was one of the two sports which had women, and the other one was sailing. The sport was removed since there were no spectators, and other than France, no other country had much interest in the game.

A game of Croquet at the Olympics (Source: IOC Museum Collection)

Arts competition

Arts competition was part of the Olympics from 1912 to 1948 games. Founder of International Olympics Committee Baron Pierre De Coubertin wanted arts to be included, and so it was. He himself won a medal for literature at the 1912 games. Artist participating in this competition were professionals, so the International Olympic committee opposed professionals participating in the Olympics.

Club Swinging

Club swinging featured in 1904 and 1932 Olympics. The competitor stands erect with a club which is nothing but a bowling pin, and they swing it around the body in different styles. There was only one nation participating in this competition, so it was removed from the Olympics.

Tug of War

Tug of war was contested from 1900 to 1920 Olympics which is six Olympics on the straight. It had some strange rules, such as the country can field more than one team in the form of clubs. Great Britain is the most successful team that had featured clubs such as City of London police, Liverpool police and metropolitan police. This sport was removed after a lot of controversies and strange rules like these.

Tug of War at the Olympics (Source: Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Basque Pelota

It was contested only once at the 1900 Olympics, where France and Spain competed against each other. This is a sport that involves throwing the ball on the wall and catching it with a wooden basket. This sport was removed only after one Olympics because of not much interest from other countries.


Surprisingly cricket was part of the Olympics at the 1900 Games, where only Great Britain and France competed against each other. The sport was removed after that year because of a lack of participation from other nations.

Figure Skating

It started at the 1908 games, but from 1924 onwards, it was included in the Winter Olympics.

Jeu De Paume

This sport is also known as "real tennis" in the United Kingdom. Tennis which is being played today, is derived from this game. It was completed only once in the 1908 Olympics games.


This sport is played with a stick and a ball. It was part of both the 1904 and 1908 Olympics, where the Canadian team was the winner. There were only Canada and Britain participating, so this sport was removed from the next Olympics.

Equestrian vaulting

It was part of the 1920 Antwerp games, which consisted of four legs where you needed to jump on the horse from a standing position, do it from left, do it from the right and ride with the walking horse. This sport was removed after that Olympics.

Equestrian Vaulting or Horse Long Jump at Paris, 1900 (Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Motor Boat Racing

It was part of the Olympics only once at the 1908 Olympics but later was removed because of the rule in Olympics, which states there shouldn't be a sport that relies on mechanism too much.


It was part of the Olympics from 1900 to 1936, barring 1904. In 1904, polo didn't feature at the Olympics because it was too costly to ship horses to the games. After the 1936 games, it was discontinued for the same reason.


It was part of the Olympics only once in the 1908 games. This sport is somewhat similar to squash but has slight differences and different equipment.


Replacing Croquet, Roque featured in the 1904 Olympics. It is an American version of Croquet and only had American participants at the games. It has some varied aspects of Billiards and golf and very popular in America even after it was removed from the Olympics.

Roque at the 1904 Games (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Field Handball

Field Handball was first played at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This sport was played on the field with each team consisting of 11 players. This sport was dropped after only after one Olympics but handball (indoor) made the cut in the 1972 games

Rugby Union

This sport was on and off from the Olympic calendar till 1924. It started in the 1900 Olympics games, then it went on for three more Olympics (1908, 1920 and 1924). The 15-a-side game was removed after 1924 games but re-introduced as seven-a-side competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey made its debut in the 1920 Olympic games but then the game was shifted to Winter Olympics when it happened in 1924.

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