You would be surprised to find about some of the odd and weird events that had been a part of the Olympic Games at some point but are not anymore. It is really fascinating to know about the number and variety of sports that have at once been a part of the Olympic Games.
Since the first modern Games in 1896, 10 sports have completely disappeared from the Olympic schedule. These include the croquet, Jeu de Paume, tug-of-war, roque, pelota, cricket, polo, rackets, lacrosse and motor boating.
Also two sports that were previously listed as discontinued have made a surprising comeback. These are gold and rugby; they were voted back in as official sports for London 2012. It is also known that in the past the host country often included their own sports in the Olympic Games. Also some of the discontinued events have simply been updated to metric distances or modified into well-known events of today, especially in track and field and swimming. Some sports were also included as demonstration sports and these eventually became a part of the official program, while others just completely disappeared. Here is a description of some of top ten discontinued sports which were a part of the Olympic Games once.
Croquet at the Olympics
Croquet has been a part of the Olympic Games only once. This was included in the 1900 Olympics which took place in Paris. France won all events as mostly French competitors took part in this event. There were three women who competed against each other; however they did not win any medals. It is also known that these were some of the first women that took part in the Olympic Games. This tournament was also not a success among the spectators as only one fan watched the event. After that year this sport was never included in the Olympics.
Next comes Cricket! This is currently a very popular sport in many parts of the world; however it has only made one appearance at the Olympic Games. It was also a part of the Olympic Games that took place in Paris in 1900. There was only a single twelve-a-side match. England was playing against the French team and the English team eventually won the match. The French team was also made up of mostly Englishmen, which included the British Embassy staff who secured a few days off from the office. The lack of competing nations and the one-sided affair did not bode well for further inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Other Olympic cricket trivia took place on the 29th of June in 1948 at the London Olympic Games that began at the Wembley Stadium. Here the famed Australian 'Invincibles' cricket side was finishing off England in a test at nearby Lord's, winning by 409 runs.
Jue de paume
This is another one of the discontinued Olympic sports which literally means “game of the palm”. Jeu de Paume was played once as an official sport at Olympic level in 1908. The game is just like squash but instead of using a racket you have to use your hand to strike the ball. The competition was held at the Queen's Club in West Kensington, London. It is also called 'Real Tennis' or 'Court Tennis'. What we now call Lawn tennis or Tennis has also been derived from this older version of the game.
This is known as pelota in Spanish, pilota in Basque and Catalan, or pelote in French. A Basque pelota is known to be one of the fastest sports in the world. This tournament was contested at only one Olympic Games, in 1900 in Paris. Only two teams competed,
therefore only one match was played, on 14 June. The winner was Spain over France! Later this game also made a comeback of sorts. This was being played as a demonstration sport in the 1924 (men), 1968 (men) and 1992 (men and women) games.
Polo has been on the Olympic program for almost five times. It was played at the 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924 and 1936 Olympic Games. In the final game that was played at the Olympic level in 1936, Argentina won gold in front of a crowd of 45,000 people.
A roque tournament took place only once at the Olympic Games. This was contested in the 1904 Olympics that took place in St. Louis. This is a hard-surface form of the game croquet. The USA won all three medals in this game, which was not really surprising as all the competitors were American’s!
Olympic Racquets or Rackets
Racquets is also known as Rackets. This was an early form of the game now known as racquetball. This has been a part of the Olympic program only once in 1908. The competition was dominated by Great Britain. They won all the three medals in both singles and doubles!
Tug-of-War at the Olympics
The tug of war event had been a part of the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920. This was always contested as a part of the track & field athletics program. However, now it is considered as a spate sport. This may seem like an unusual Olympic sport to you, but this was in fact a part of the Ancient Olympics, first being held in in 500BC.
In the modern Olympics, the tug-of-war contest was between two teams of eight. One team had to pull the other six feet along in order to win the game. If after 5 minutes none of the teams had done this, the team which had pulled the most was declared the winner.
Lacrosse had been on the official Olympic program twice, in 1904 and 1908. In 1904, two Canadian teams had challenged a local team from St. Louis, with the Shamrock Lacrosse Team of Winnipeg winning the gold medal. Players of the Canadian lacrosse team that won the bronze medal consisted of Mohawk Indians, and included players named Snake Eater, Rain In Face and Man Afraid Soap. In 1908 only two teams competed, of Canada and Great Britain. This sport also made a comeback as a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1928, 1932 and 1948.
Olympic Motorboating (Water Motor sports)
The video below is to let you see just how much the Olympics have changed since the 1900's.
Motorboating is also called Power-boating or Water Motor sports. This was an official sport only once at the Olympic Games, in 1908 and it was also a demonstration sport in 1900. In 1908 there were three categories – the eight-meter, 60-foot and open class. The event, strictly for men, involved racing five laps around a specific course. Their speeds however were not impressive by today's standards. The average speeds were around the 19mph mark. It was not exactly a great spectator sport either as the event took place in the Southampton, where virtually no one could see the action. Also due to bad weather, six out of the nine scheduled races were cancelled. After that year, this game was never included in the Olympics again.