Many truly odd events have been included (and subsequently
scrapped) in the Olympics over the years. Some of them are truly
bizarre. Like poodle clipping.
Weird sports events that are on the 2012 Olympic programme attract many viewers. People who would never otherwise watch weight-lifting or archery are glued to the screen.
Over 13,000 athletes compete at the Summer and Winter Olympics in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events.
What are the criteria for inclusion of a sport in the Olympic
programme? In short, a two-thirds majority vote is required of the
members of the International Olympic community (IOC) to include a new
sport, or exclude an old one. Factors taken into consideration include
history and tradition of the sport, popularity, universality, image,
cost, athlete's health, and the development of the International
Federation that governs the sport.
Attention is also paid to the traditions of the host country, which is
why poodle clipping was included in the 1900 Olympic Games held in
Paris, but never again.
Check out this Youtube video of some of the weird events no longer found on the Olympic programme.
Here's more about some of these – and if you won a Gold Medal for any
of these, it might have been an idea not to display it in public if you
wanted to be taken seriously as an athlete.
Tug-of-war. This is a game of strength, which consists
of two teams pulling a rope in opposite directions until the mid-point
of the rope passes into the territory of one of the teams. Most people
associate this sport with school sports days or funfairs. But it was an
Olympic event from 1900 to 1920.
Live pigeon shooting. This was only part of the Games
in the year 1900, after which it was replaced by clay pigeon shooting.
Live pigeons were released in front of participants: two misses and you
were out. The winner was the person who shot the most birds. It's not
really difficult to see why this was discontinued.
Plunging. This was held only once in 1904. This
involved the rather pointless exercise of diving into a pool of water
and remaining completely motionless until a minute was over, or your
head popped out of the water. The person who was the furthest from the
edge of the pool from where they had dived in was the winner.
Standing triple jump. If you think of the jumping
events today, it involves a lot of high-speed running. But from 1900 to
1920, triple jump, long jump and high jump were also contested from a
Solo synchronised swimming. This doesn't sound right –
usually synchronised swimming is done in teams, right? But no, this has
been an event at the Olympics in 1984, 1988 and 1992 Games. A woman
gets into a pool and tries to synchronise her swimming with the music
Swimming obstacle race. In Paris in 1900 this event
was held in the River Seine. Competitors swam about 200 metres, but in
between had to climb a pole sticking out of the water, swim to some
boats and climb over them, swim to some more boats and swim under them.
It isn't difficult to see why this didn't catch on.
Gliding. In 1936 at the Berlin Olympic Games, gliding
was included as an Olympic sport. But that was the one and only time.
Many think it was included to show off the fast-flying German planes.
Even though gliding was listed as an official sport in 1940, the Games
were cancelled because of WWII, and after the war, people had lost their
enthusiasm for sports involving fast-flying planes after experiencing
firsthand what they could do.
Kabaddi. This was also included only once. It is a
sort of team-wrestling sport in which the object is for one member of a
team to enter the other side's half of the field, and score points by
tagging or wrestling the opponents. The attacker must then return to his
side of the field, but has to hold his breath the whole time. Quite
pointless it seems, but apparently popular in South East Asia.
Poodle clipping. This is no joke. It was part of the
Olympics in Paris in 1900, although it was just a trial event. 128
people competed in a Parisian Park in front of a crowd of 6000 to see
who could clip the fur off the most poodles in a two-hour period. It
isn't difficult to see why this didn't catch on.
Hot air ballooning. Again part of the Olympics in 1900
in Paris. Several hot air ballooning events were held and the French
won them all. They tested distance, duration, elevation and targeted
(Sources:ivillage.com; listverse.com; forbes.com; 11points.com)