The Forgotten Sports: A Look at What Has Never Been an Olympic Official Sport

There are certain sports that people associate with the Olympics like swimming, track and field, and gymnastics. These events are what we typically see on our TV screens every four years with athletes competing for the top spot and their countries. But did you know that there are a plethora of sports that have never been an Olympic official sport?

It’s true! Despite the thousands of Olympic events that have been held throughout history, there are still many sports that haven’t made the cut. From chess and karate to surfing and skateboarding, there are many activities that are not recognized as official Olympic sports.

This begs the question, why not include them? Some argue that the Olympics should stick to traditional sports to maintain its historical relevance and value. Others believe that new sports should be added to remain relevant and interesting to younger audiences. Whatever your opinion may be, there are plenty of world-class athletes who are just as dedicated and skilled in their non-official Olympic sport as any other athlete.

Popular non-official Olympic sports

The Olympic Games is the biggest and most prestigious sporting event in the world. However, there are a number of sports that have yet to become official Olympic disciplines. Some of these sports are gaining in popularity and could eventually be included in the Olympic program.

  • Cricket – Cricket is a sport that is popular in many parts of the world, particularly in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Australia. It has been considered for inclusion in the Olympics, with the International Cricket Council pushing for its inclusion in 2028.
  • Squash – Squash is a fast-paced and exciting sport that has a strong following in some countries. It has been considered for inclusion in the Olympics several times but has yet to make the cut.
  • Karate – Karate is a martial art that originated in Japan. It has been considered for inclusion in the Olympics for many years and was finally added to the program for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
  • Surfing – Surfing is a sport that has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. It was included as an exhibition sport in the 2020 Olympic Games and will become an official Olympic sport in 2024.
  • Skateboarding – Skateboarding has a huge following, particularly among younger generations. It was included as an exhibition sport in the 2020 Olympic Games and will become an official Olympic sport in 2024.

Although these sports have yet to become official Olympic disciplines, they still have thriving communities and competitive circuits at the international and national levels.

The History of Olympic Sports

Ever since its inception in ancient Greece in 776 B.C., the Olympic games have been a spectacle of athletic prowess and international unity. Over the centuries, different sports have been added and removed from the official Olympic program, reflecting changing times and cultural values. While many sports have come and gone, some have persisted through the years and become synonymous with the Olympic movement.

  • Running, or foot races, were the only events included in the ancient Olympic games.
  • Wrestling and pentathlon were added to the program in 708 B.C., followed by boxing, chariot racing, and pankration.
  • Sports such as swimming, cycling, and gymnastics were added in the modern Olympic era, which began in 1896 in Athens.

Not all sports have been so fortunate, however.

Despite popular support and a unique fan following, there are some sports that have never made it onto the official Olympic program. Some of these sports have been proposed or showcased as a demonstration event, but they have never been granted official Olympic status.

Sport Proposed for Olympic inclusion
Cricket 1900 Summer Olympics, 1996 Summer Olympics, 2024 Summer Olympics
Chess Officially recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999, but not yet included in the Olympic program
Sumo Proposed for the 2020 Summer Olympics
Squash Proposed for the 2020 Summer Olympics
Karate Proposed for the 2020 Summer Olympics

Although they may never achieve official Olympic status, these sports continue to be popular and highly esteemed by their respective communities. Who knows what sports might become part of the Olympic program in the future?

The process of adding new sports to the Olympics

As the world evolves, so does the Olympics. New sports are added to the roster every few years, to keep up with the changing landscape of sports around the world.

The criteria for adding new sports

  • The new sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries, and on four continents. For women’s sports, the number of countries drops to 50.
  • The sport must comply with the Olympic Charter, and promote the values of the Olympics.
  • The sport should not place an excessive financial burden on the host country.

The process to make a sport official

The process to make a sport an official Olympic sport is a long and rigorous one. It begins with the submission of an official letter of interest from the International Federation (IF) that governs that sport. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) then reviews the letter to determine if the sport has the potential to meet the criteria for inclusion. If the IF is successful, the sport will be added to the Olympic program for a trial period of 7 years, during which time its future will be evaluated.

If all goes well, the IOC will make a decision on whether to add the sport to the Olympic program permanently. This decision is usually made 3 years prior to the summer or winter games, giving the host country enough time to prepare for the inclusion of the new sport.

Recent additions to the Olympic program

Recent additions to the Olympic program have included sports such as surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing. These sports are seen as appealing to younger audiences, and are expected to attract a new generation of athletes to the Olympic games.

New Olympic Sports Year Added
Surfing 2020
Sport Climbing 2020
Skateboarding 2020

These additions have been widely celebrated, as they bring new excitement and energy to the Olympic games.

Olympic sports that have been discontinued

Over the years, the International Olympic Committee has added and removed various sports from official Olympic competition. Some sports have been removed due to lack of popularity, while others were removed due to logistical or financial reasons. Here are some of the Olympic sports that have been discontinued:

  • Polo: Polo was featured in the Olympics only once, in 1900. The British team emerged as winners, while the United States came second. However, the sport was removed from the program after this, due to a lack of interest.
  • Roque: Roque is a form of croquet that was played in the Olympics in 1904. However, due to its complicated rules and lack of popularity, it was not included in subsequent Olympic games.
  • Tug of war: Tug of war was a popular sport in the early Olympic games, featuring in every Olympics from 1900 to 1920. However, it was removed from the program after 1920, as it was deemed to be too dangerous and not in keeping with the spirit of the games.

In addition to these individual sports, there have also been times when entire disciplines have been removed from the Olympic program. For example, baseball and softball were removed after the 2008 Olympics, and are set to return in the 2020 games. Other discontinued Olympic sports include croquet, cricket, and jeu de paume.

A table of discontinued Olympic sports:

Sport Years Played
Polo 1900
Roque (Croquet) 1904
Tug of war 1900-1920
Croquet 1900
Cricket 1900
Jeu de paume 1908

While it is always sad to say goodbye to a sport or discipline, the IOC always strives to keep the Olympic program fresh and exciting, ensuring that the games remain relevant to a global audience.

The impact of the Olympics on sports popularity

The Olympics is a worldwide event that brings nations together to compete with one another in various sports. Over the years, many sports have been added to the Olympics, while some have been discontinued. However, there have been a few sports that have never been officially included in the Olympics.

  • Baseball – Baseball is a popular sport in many countries, especially in the United States. However, the Olympics has never officially recognized baseball as a sport.
  • Cricket – Cricket is another sport that has a tremendous following in many countries around the world, yet it has never been an Olympic sport.
  • Squash – Squash is an indoor racquet sport that is gaining popularity, but it has yet to make an appearance in the Olympics.

The Olympics has a significant impact on the popularity of sports. When a sport is included in the Olympics, it receives global attention, and athletes who participate are instantly elevated to new heights of fame. However, when a sport is excluded from the Olympics, it can experience a decline in popularity.

Take, for example, rugby. Rugby was not a part of the Olympics for almost a century. However, when it was reintroduced in the 2016 Rio Olympics, it gained new interest and recognition. Rugby sevens, in particular, has seen significant growth in popularity since being included in the Olympics.

Year Number of participating countries Number of athletes
2016 24 288
2021 31 288

The inclusion of rugby in the Olympics has had a positive impact on the sport’s popularity and growth. This demonstrates the significance of the Olympics as a platform to showcase different sports to a global audience and boost their popularity.

Olympic Sports that Require Unique Skills or Equipment

Not all sports are created equal, especially when it comes to Olympic sports. Some sports require unique skills or equipment that makes them stand out from the rest. Here are some Olympic sports that require these unique features:

  • Skeet Shooting: A sport that requires precision and focus. Athletes use a shotgun to shoot clay pigeons that are released from various angles and heights.
  • Fencing: This sport requires athletes to wear protective gear and use a sword to strike their opponent. Quick reflexes, agility, and strategic thinking are key skills needed to win.
  • Synchronized Swimming: This sport requires athletes to have great strength, flexibility, and breath control as they perform an intricate routine in the water with a partner or a team.

Cool Olympic Sports That Never Made it to the Official List

There are several sports that have never made it to the official Olympic sports list, but they are still worth mentioning:

  • Sumo Wrestling: A Japanese sport that involves two heavy wrestlers pushing each other out of a ring. The sport has gained popularity in other parts of the world and could one day make it to the Olympics.
  • Bowling: A popular sport in many countries, bowling has yet to make it to the official Olympic sports list. The sport requires precision and skill as athletes aim to knock down as many pins as possible in a limited amount of rolls.
  • Cheerleading: Cheerleading combines acrobatics, dance, and gymnastics into a highly competitive sport that has yet to make it to the Olympics.

Paralympic Sports

Paralympic sports are a subset of Olympic sports that are designed for athletes with disabilities. These sports require unique equipment and accommodations to ensure that athletes can compete at their best. Some notable paralympic sports include:

  • Wheelchair Basketball: A sport that requires athletes to use wheelchairs as they maneuver a ball into a basket. Athletes must have great upper body strength and agility.
  • Blind Soccer: A team sport where athletes wear blindfolds or have impaired vision as they play with a ball that has bells inside it. Quick reflexes, communication, and coordination are key skills needed for this sport
  • Boccia: A sport that resembles lawn bowling but is played indoors on a smooth surface. The sport is designed for athletes with severe disabilities who use a ramp to roll balls toward a target.


Olympic sports come in many shapes and forms, but the ones that require unique skills and equipment stand out from the rest. These sports are a testament to the dedication and passion that athletes have for their craft. Whether it’s shooting clay pigeons or swimming in synchronized harmony, these sports have captivated audiences for generations.

Olympic Sports that Require Unique Skills or Equipment Cool Olympic Sports That Never Made it to the Official List Paralympic Sports
Skeet Shooting Sumo Wrestling Wheelchair Basketball
Fencing Bowling Blind Soccer
Synchronized Swimming Cheerleading Boccia

While these sports may not be for everyone, they showcase the unique skills and talents of athletes from all over the world. Who knows what new sport will make it to the Olympics next!

Olympic sports for individuals versus team sports

Since the first modern Olympics in 1896, the number of official sports in the Olympic program has grown significantly. However, there are still many sports that have yet to become official Olympic sports. One debate that often comes up in the discussion about which sports should be added to the Olympic program is whether individual or team sports should take priority.

Individual sports require athletes to compete on their own, without a partner or team. Examples of individual Olympic sports include gymnastics, running, swimming, and figure skating. Team sports, on the other hand, involve athletes working together with teammates to achieve a common goal. Examples of team Olympic sports include basketball, soccer, volleyball, and water polo.

Never Official Olympic Sports

  • Cheerleading
  • Squash
  • Surfing

The debate between individual and team sports is often a matter of personal preference. Some people believe that individual sports are more competitive because athletes have to rely entirely on their own abilities and skills to succeed. Others argue that team sports are more exciting because of the element of teamwork and collaboration involved.

Additionally, some sports may be better suited for the Olympic program as individual sports, while others may work better as a team sport. For example, sports like track and field and gymnastics have traditionally been individual Olympic sports, while team sports like basketball and soccer have gained in popularity over the years.

Table Tennis

Table tennis is a sport that can be played in both individual and team formats. It has been an official Olympic sport since 1988, and the team event was added in 2008. Table tennis is unique in that it requires both individual skill and teamwork. Players compete in either singles or doubles matches, and the team event involves teams of three players competing against each other.

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men’s Singles Ma Long (China) Zhang Jike (China) Jun Mizutani (Japan)
Women’s Singles Ding Ning (China) Liu Shiwen (China) Kim Song-i (North Korea)
Men’s Team China (Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin) Japan (Jun Mizutani, Koki Niwa, Tomokazu Harimoto) Korea Republic (Jang Woo-jin, Lee Sang-su, An Jaehyun)
Women’s Team China (Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu) Japan (Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, Kasumi Ishikawa) Hong Kong, China (Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching, Minnie Soo Wai Yam)

Overall, whether a sport is better suited for individual or team competition depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the sport itself and the preferences of the athletes and fans. In the end, the Olympic program aims to showcase a diverse range of sports that reflect the values of excellence, friendship, and respect.

FAQs about which has never been an olympic official sport

1. What is an Olympic official sport?

An Olympic official sport is any sport that has been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be included in the Olympic Games.

2. Which sports have never been included as an Olympic official sport?

There are many sports that have never been included as an Olympic official sport. Some of these sports include chess, bowling, billiards, and surfing.

3. Why have some sports never been included in the Olympic Games?

Some sports may not meet the IOC’s criteria for inclusion in the Olympic Games. This could be due to a lack of global participation or a lack of interest from the public.

4. Can a sport be added to the Olympic Games if it has never been an official sport?

Yes, a sport can be added to the Olympic Games even if it has never been an official sport. The IOC evaluates sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games regularly.

5. Are there any plans to add new sports to the Olympic Games in the future?

Yes, the IOC is always considering new sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games. In fact, five sports will be added to the Summer Olympics in 2021, including skateboarding and surfing.

6. Can non-traditional sports ever be included in the Olympic Games?

Yes, non-traditional sports can be included in the Olympic Games. As long as a sport meets the criteria set by the IOC, it can be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to learn about which sports have never been an Olympic official sport. The Olympic Games have a rich history of showcasing the world’s best athletes, and we look forward to seeing what new sports will be added in the future. Visit our site again for the latest news and updates on the Olympic Games.

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