10 Most Bizarre Sports in Olympic History

The Olympic Games have a long and storied history of showcasing the best athletes from around the world. However, not all Olympic events have been as conventional as the ones we know today. From sports betting enthusiasts to casual fans, many have been fascinated by the strangest and most bizarre sports that have graced the Olympic stage. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of 10 peculiar Olympic sports, examining their origins, rules, and impact on the betting history of the prestigious competition.
Here are ten of the most obscure events to have taken place in the history of the Olympic Games:

10 – Tug-of-War

Tug of War - Bizarre Sports
Tug of War – By The original uploader was Johnmoore6 at English Wikipedia – Bizarre Sports[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The first obscure event to be contested at an Olympics was the Tug-of-War. Running from 1900 to 1920, this actually lasted a lot longer than others on our list. The main reason for this was that it was fairly exciting to watch, ended quickly and wasn’t that dangerous. As I’m sure everyone knows, this event involved teams grabbing one end each of a long rope and trying to pull the other over a centre line for victory.
Interestingly for an official Olympic event, the rules were not overly clear. Teams could have players from different nationalities, and organizers never made clear specific guidelines to anyone. It seemed like it was just a good excuse to have a bit of fun for the people watching and participants.

09 – Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Ballooning
Hot Air Ballooning – By DarlArthurS (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Hot Air Ballooning, an unexpected sport in Olympic history, soared to new heights during the 1900 Paris Games. Participants navigated the skies, demonstrating their skill in controlling these majestic vessels. Sports betting enthusiasts eagerly placed wagers, adding excitement to the spectacle. Although Hot Air Ballooning’s Olympic presence was brief, it remains a remarkable example of the diversity and ingenuity found within the ever-evolving world of competitive sports.

08 – Kite Flying

Kite Flying - Bizarre Sports
Kite Flying

Kite Flying, a lesser-known sport, once graced the Olympic arena, captivating spectators with its whimsical charm. In this aerial competition, athletes showcased their skills in controlling and maneuvering kites with grace and precision. Amid the excitement, sports betting circles brimmed with predictions and anticipation, adding a competitive edge to this seemingly serene event. Though Kite Flying remains a niche chapter in Olympic history, it stands as a testament to the boundless variety and creativity within the world of sports.

07 – Solo Synchronized Swimming

Solo Synchronized Swimming - Bizarre Sports
Solo Synchronized Swimming – Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

This event was part of the Olympics from 1984 to 1992 and seems to be one of the stranger ones ever to have made it. The whole point of being synchronized is to have other people there to mirror, isn’t it? It just doesn’t look as impressive when you’re moving around on your own really.
Ending up looking like a form of acrobatic, aquatic ballet this event was soon discarded as the public never took to it. They found it either boring or just couldn’t grasp the overall concept of calling a solo performer ‘synchronized’. Of course, fans of the event will point out the performer was synchronizing with the music but it’s still a rum do. It did pretty well to last as long as it did really and it was no real surprise to see it dropped eventually.

06 – Croquet

Croquet - Bizarre Sports

Aaah the gentle English game of Croquet. If you have not heard of it before, contestants use a wooden mallet to hit their coloured ball through hoops stuck in the ground. Once they have knocked their ball through all of the hoops in sequence they win. It’s actually a fairly engaging way of spending an afternoon but an Olympic sport? Not really!
Making its bow in 1900, it only lasted that one Olympics due to general dis-interest. Although quite fun to play, it’s not a demanding athletic challenge and very boring to watch. Both of these elements led to it living a short-lived life in Olympic history.

05 – Curling

Curling – By Feddar (Feddar) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Although curling is fairly well-known as a sport, its inclusion in the Olympics has always seemed somewhat odd. After all, it’s not exactly the most physically demanding and not something that is wildly popular across the globe. In addition to that, the rules and way you play it seems strange to most people too.
It seems the general idea is to fling big granite stones down some ice towards a bulls-eye at the other end. This is not too weird but it’s what happens next that is hard to fathom! After the stone is released, other people with what look like brooms sweep around the stone until it stops. The reasons for this are unclear but they all seem to be having a fine time.
Still a part of the Winter Olympics, this sport is likely to remain so for many more years so it might be worth finding out exactly how it works for next time it’s on. As far as Olympic events go though, it is certainly one of the more obscure and less well-known.

04 – Live Pigeon Shooting

Live Pigeon Shooting
Live Pigeon Shooting – By Smith Bennett [1] (Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Live Pigeon Shooting made a unique and controversial appearance at the 1900 Paris Olympics. In this peculiar event, competitors shot live pigeons, aiming to bring down as many as possible. Consequently, it left an indelible mark on Olympic history. Sports betting enthusiasts hotly debated the outcomes, given the sport’s unpredictable nature. Although it featured only once, Live Pigeon Shooting remains an intriguing and contentious chapter in both Olympic and sports betting history.

03 – Roller Hockey

Roller Hockey
Roller Hockey – By Shev123 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Taking place in the Barcelona games of 1992, this was included as a demonstration event but was still a strange one to put in at all! Although some areas of the world find the game of roller hockey popular, it can’t be compared to other classic Olympic events.
For once, this was at least exciting to watch and something that the public could enjoy. Although somewhat rough for the players, it was also no danger to spectators either! Although the reception for this event was pretty good, organisers did not see enough potential to make it an official event for the future.

02 – Jeu de Paume

Jeu de Paume
Jeu de Paume – See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A rather obscure sport in its own right, the inclusion of Jeu de Paume at the 1908 games was most odd. The sport itself is like a French version of tennis in which players hit the ball with their hands rather than a racquet. Indeed, it is thought that the modern game of lawn tennis we all love is derived from this older version.
Like other events on this list, it had a short-lived Olympic career and the organizers soon dropped it to make room for other events, although it was quite exciting. Maybe the absence of a racquet was key here? Seeing a grown man hit a ball over a net with his bare hands was obviously just not something that the public wanted to watch!

01 – Gliding

Gliding - Bizarre Sports
Gliding – Bizarre Sports

The 1936 Olympics was a strange event in the game’s history. They held it not only in Berlin at the very height of Nazi rule (but pre-World War II naturally) but also included gliding as an event. In much the same way as hot-air ballooning it is a great past-time for people but not really a sport people want to watch in the Olympics.
Gliding, a fascinating Olympic sport, took to the skies during the 1936 Berlin Games. Competitors showcased their ability to master the art of unpowered flight in sleek, engineless aircraft. As the gliders soared gracefully above the crowds, sports betting circles buzzed with excitement, attempting to foresee the victors in this captivating contest. While Gliding’s time in the Olympic spotlight was brief, it remains an extraordinary testament to the versatility and innovation present in the realm of bizarre sports.

In conclusion, these 10 bizarre sports offer a fascinating glimpse into the ever-changing landscape of the Olympic Games. From the unusual to the downright peculiar, these events have left their mark on the world of sports and sports betting history. As we continue to marvel at the athletic feats of today’s Olympians, let us not forget the unconventional and bizarre sports that have brought excitement, intrigue, and surprise to the Olympic stage. Embracing the diverse and unexpected aspects of human competition serves as a reminder of the infinite possibilities that lie within the realm of sports.