Weird Olympic Sports

While the sports currently played at the Olympics are mainstream sports, in the past a variety of weird Olympic sports have been played or demonstrated.  From the tug of war to winter sports contested at the Summer Olympics, these oddities were once part of the standard program of games.  

  1. Bandy  A cross between ice hockey and football, teams of eleven players each participated in the weird Olympic sport of bandy at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Norway.  Players from Finland, Norway and Sweden demonstrated bandy, featuring skaters attempting to sink a ball in the opposing net on a rectangular ice surface.  While the sport was approved by the International Olympic Committee, it never appeared in the games again.
  2. Gilma  Originating in Iceland, the folk-wrestling sport of gilma was demonstrated at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Sweden.  In the event, two competitors stand facing one another while using dance moves to wrestle each other to the ground.  Though it remains popular in Iceland, the weird sport never caught on at the Olympics.
  3. Ice hockey and figure skating  Though not weird by themselves, ice hockey and figure skating were originally part of the Summer Olympics.  The International Olympic Committee changed this oddity after the 1920 Summer Olympics, moving the two sports to the Winter Games.
  4. Jeu de paume  Debuting as a demonstration in the second Olympics in 1900, jeu de paume went on to become a full medal sport in 1908, then was discontinued and returned for a final exhibition in 1924.  Similar to tennis, competitors skip the rackets and use their hands to control the ball on a grass court.
  5. Korfball  Combining soccer and basketball, korfball appeared as a demonstration sport in the 1920 and 1928 Summer Olympics.  In the sport, two mixed-gender teams attempt to toss a soccer ball into an elevated basket located in their opponent's zone.  The weird Olympic sport was soon replaced with modern basketball, starting in 1936.
  6. Skijoring  Appearing just once, in the 1928 Winter Olympics, skijoring features one person riding a horse that pulls a second competitor on skis through a series of jumps and obstacles.  The weird Olympic sport used horses however other variations of the sport outside the Winter Olympics included a skier pulled by dogs or even a snowmobile.
  7. Surf lifesaving  Turning rescue efforts into a weird Olympic sport, surf lifesaving required competitors to simulate rescuing a person from a lake or ocean among other things.  The sport was demonstrated in just one Summer Olympics, the 1900 games in Paris, and was not accepted by the International Olympic Committee.
  8. Tug of war  The longest-running weird Olympic sport of the list, tug of war was contested in the Summer Olympics from 1900 to 1920.  Showcasing the brute strength of the participants, two teams of five-to-eight members squared off in each event in an attempt to pull a large rope from the grips of their opponents.  Great Britain dominated the sport, taking five of the thirteen total medals awarded.
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