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Strange but True Olympic Events that are Discontinued

Updated on September 17, 2014
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Go For The Gold

The Olympics is a tradition of global cooperation and a demonstration of national pride at the same time. A way for countries to demonstrate their superiority in a given field. We all have our favourite events to watch be it baseball, long jumping, hammer throw, gymnastics, or any one of the host of other events, but how many of you are a fan of the city planning event, or the live pigeon shooting event. Believe it or not these are real medal placing categories from days of yore.

Image is a stock photo, rights granted

Wrestling - Dates Played: 708 BCE to 2020 (Excepting the 1900 Summer Olympics)

Before I start into the really odd sports I thought it fitting to include a brief fair well to wrestling which will to be eliminated from the Summer Olympics for the 2020 round.

I hope in the end Wrestling is brought back. It is quite a sport, and it is unfortunate that the IOC doesn't see it that way.

Alfréd Hajós - the First Modern Olympic Champion in swimming, and one of only two people two ever win medals in both a sport and an art in architecture
Alfréd Hajós - the First Modern Olympic Champion in swimming, and one of only two people two ever win medals in both a sport and an art in architecture | Source

Olympic Art Competition

Dates played: 1912, 1924 - 1948

There were five categories in the Art's competition they were:

  • Architecture
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Painting
  • Sculpture

Each primary category had various sub events one could enter, including town planning.

Taken from the Official Report of the 1896 Olympic Games.

1900 Olympic Games' Pigeon Shooting event.
1900 Olympic Games' Pigeon Shooting event.

Live Pigeon Shooting

Dates played: 1900

In 1900 Paris was overrun with pigeon's, the solution, since Paris was hosting the Olympics they decided live pigeon shooting would be a wonderful event. Live pigeons would be released for each contestant and a contestant would be eliminated after two misses. The contestant with the most kills won. 300 pigeons were killed in this event, and it is the only time on record that animals were intentionally harmed as part of an Olympic event.

''Wolseley-Siddely'' at the 1908 Summer Olympics
''Wolseley-Siddely'' at the 1908 Summer Olympics

Motor Boating

Dates played: 1900 (demonstration sport) 1908

This was actually three events based on the size of the boat. All three events were plagued with technical trouble and only one boat even finished the race in all three classes, as such only gold medals were awarded.

1908, depicts the Liverpool Police tug-of-war team who won the silver medal that year at the London Olympics.
1908, depicts the Liverpool Police tug-of-war team who won the silver medal that year at the London Olympics.

Tug of War

Dates played: 1900 to 1920

Tug of war is a well known event held at picnics and fairs yearly world wide, but its hardly considered a sport just a game. However from 1900 to 1920 the Olympics included tug of war. One of the oddest things about the tug of war event was that the teams represented clubs instead of countries, and one country could have several clubs representing that country.

Gold Medal Winning Australian Frederick Lane climbing out of the river after competing in the 1900 Paris Olympics' swimming obstacle race.
Gold Medal Winning Australian Frederick Lane climbing out of the river after competing in the 1900 Paris Olympics' swimming obstacle race.

200m Swiming Obstical Race

Dates played: 1900

This event was only ever held for the 1900 Olympics, starting to notice a trend about 1900, the coordinators of those Olympics must have been high that year.

The event consisted of climbing over a pole, then scrambling over a row of boats, then under another row of boats, all against the current of the river Seine. Try that in 2:38.4 (the gold medal wining time).

Tandem Cycling

Dates played: 1906, 1908, 1920-1972

Olympians on a bicycle built for two, so romantic, so, well not as odd as so many others listed, but weird. Despite the phasing out in 1972 the tandem event isn't completely gone and now apparently has a place in the paraolympics.

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

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    • QuizSquid profile image

      QuizSquid 4 years ago

      Thanks for a fun lens. Several of these made me smile!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 4 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I am happy to know that live pigeon shooting has been discontinued. Killing things doesn't seem in the spirit of the Olympics. I am also happy for the sake of our environment that motorboat racing has gone the way of the dodo bird. The swimming obstacle race sounds like a challenge from Survivor. Thanks for a lens with an unusual topic. I enjoyed it.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      What?! No more Live Pigeon Shooting? LOL! Thanks for the fun old Olympic events!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @anonymous: I love useless info to :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just love useless information and this has added to the lists that are already cluttering up my brain, with which I shall bore people at parties from now until evermore!

    • tricomanagement profile image

      tricomanagement 5 years ago

      Leave to the French - 1900 - really strange events!

    • jeffersonline profile image

      jeffersonline 5 years ago

      Nice little lens here TMM. Thanks for putting it together for us all. Angel dust sprinkled....

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 5 years ago

      Wow, I didn't know about these Olympic events before. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very Fun! They should bring the art competition back so I can be an Olympian!

    • Soapmarked profile image

      Soapmarked 5 years ago from TX

      Tug of war! Really?! Lol

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @bossypants: 1900 must have been a strange year to watch for sure.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks Tipi. It was a fun Lens to research and write. Love finding little tidbits of useless info.

    • profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago

      Sounds like the 1900 games were quite the free for all! Enjoyed your lens of little known Olympic facts!

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great article. Fun to read!

    • DeniseDurham2011 profile image

      DeniseDurham2011 5 years ago

      Fun lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I sure enjoyed reading this, hadn't seen it anywhere else. :)

    • Merstarr profile image

      Merstarr 5 years ago

      Interesting. I wonder if extreme sports or dance will ever make it in. I know that the more creative a category is, the more subjective and therefore, potentially less fair the adjudication , but I think it would make for some awesome entertainment :)

    • Frank Edens profile image

      Frank Edens 5 years ago

      Strange lens with not much content, but it's funny as hell :)

    • Thankfultw profile image

      Thankfultw 5 years ago

      Interesting lens! Thanks!

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 5 years ago

      Why did they stop tug of war :( Sound like good entertainment - a lot better than football (soccer) which has so many other world tournaments

    • wedpittsburgh lm profile image

      wedpittsburgh lm 5 years ago

      Hilarious. Unicycling maybe?

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      Interesting lens - Olympic level tug o'war? Mind boggling!

    • jgary lm profile image

      jgary lm 5 years ago

      Bring back the tandem! That sounds like a great race!

    • octopen profile image

      octopen 5 years ago

      Did you know that squash isn't an olympic sporrt??

    • profile image

      PaulRyan 5 years ago

      They should bring Tug of War back!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @hessa johnson: It was done to music, I remember watching solo synchronized swimming, or was we called it the Oxymoronic event.

    • hessa johnson profile image

      hessa johnson 5 years ago

      My favourite is solo synchronized swimming. Probably done to music, but still seems funny to me.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 5 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Great article, MeadMan. Thanks for being the historian and sharing these.

    • KidsToyTeaSets LM profile image

      KidsToyTeaSets LM 5 years ago

      What an interesting article. Thank you.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @Mamaboo LM: Plan on it, there are a few other events I've stumbled upon since.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @YellowTaxis: agreed, the tug of war would be cool to see on an Olympic level.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @themeaparty: Yup, with a sub category of town planning, weird eh. One year the gold medal for architecture went to the guy who designed that years Olympic stadium for that very design.

    • themeaparty profile image

      themeaparty 5 years ago


    • profile image

      YellowTaxis 5 years ago

      would of loved to see tug of war, would of been interesting

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Very cool lens! I had no idea of all the events in the Olympics! Thanks for sharing. Greetings from 'the land of eternal spring'!

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I would have loved to see the arts competitions.

      Great lens!

    • Mamaboo LM profile image

      Mamaboo LM 5 years ago

      I love your lens. I hope you continue to add to it. Be blessed!

    • profile image

      Honeyb33 5 years ago

      haha that is so weird. There are still some sports in the olympics that should be removed.

    • BillyPilgrim LM profile image

      BillyPilgrim LM 5 years ago

      Bring back motor boating! ;)

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      amazing, i really very happy to know few facts about olympics, thanks for the information you share.

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      No wonder some of these were discontinued! I think tug of war and some sort of an obstacle race would be fun...I'm not sure about it being a swimming event though. Blessed

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      What a kick! I love little known facts like this.

    • NausetViews profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Boston

      Who knew about all these events? Very interesting to see what they consider Olympic-worthy sports in the past.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I can see why they discontinued these events! Imagine being pelted with dead pigeons!

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      I had no idea tug of war was ever an Olympic sport. That would be fun to watch!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      I'd love to see the Obstacle Race brought back again.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Well, I'm sure glad they discontinued these events, especially the pigeon shooting. Imagine what kind of events the hosting city could come up with if they could just randomly add an event.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is pretty hilarious.. Live Pigeon Shooting. LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Great Olympic trivia here.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      Wow, who would have thought! Very interesting.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile image

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 5 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      A fun lens. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Interesting stuff.

    • EbooksFreeWeekl1 profile image

      EbooksFreeWeekl1 5 years ago

      I thought tug of war was an innocent enough fun sport.

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Great lens! I'm still wondering why ping pong is considered a sport...

    • profile image

      aiclogcabins 5 years ago

      Very interesting facts

    • profile image

      Oosquid 5 years ago

      I think the 'Tug of War' would make a great event :0) Live pigeon shooting, no, no, no. Very interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hahaha, they must have been high with the swimming obstacle course. I laughed. Lovely lens. Thanks.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      fun lens!

    • petelovestoread profile image

      petelovestoread 5 years ago

      what a great and funny piece of history. Thank you for the great lens.

    • sentanta lm profile image

      sentanta lm 5 years ago

      These are classic - I guess live pigeon shooting is the worst

    • xriotdotbiz lm profile image

      xriotdotbiz lm 5 years ago

      Live Pigeon Shooting and Tug of War would be my favorites if still held today. These events are a bit reminiscent of my lifelong desire to see Dodge Ball and Kickball to be NCAA inter-collegiate sports.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      This is fun and enjoying, great history here. Blessed! Congrats on the Purple Star!

    • Tagarack profile image

      Tagarack 5 years ago

      Glad they got rid of the pigeon shooting one. It's not right for birds to have to die for sporting events. I am surprised though about the tug of war. Of all the ones you listed, that seems the most Olympic to me.

    • MrMojo01 profile image

      MrMojo01 5 years ago

      LOL some of these would be more interesting to watch than the events they have today!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Very interesting and unusual Olympic facts - enjoyed reading this ~~Blessed~~

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      Now I'll have a little Olympic trivia to show off tonight while we're watching the Olympics - thanks!