When people think of the Summer Olympics, they often think of the marquee events: Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky taking home gold medals in swimming events, or Team USA dominating in basketball, or Usain Bolt sprinting down the track.
But beyond the classic, most popular events, there are a number of less-heralded events at every Summer Olympics, and that list of events is always changing. New events are added to the Olympics every four years, and in some cases, less popular events are dropped from the games. Here are a few events that were once Olympic sports, but no longer are.
As hard as it may be to believe, tug of war was part of the Olympics from 1900 to 1920. While it’s more known as a friendly group party game today, it is still played competitively in some countries. But it seems unlikely to ever return to the Olympics. It’s not really a sport that athletes specialize in, and doesn’t require much athletic skill beyond brute strength, which is already showcased in weightlifting events.
Baseball was never an extremely popular sport in the Olympics because the Summer Olympics coincided with the Major League Baseball regular season, meaning nearly all of the sport’s most recognizable names did not participate. As a result, baseball was cut from the Summer Games after the 2008 Olympics. The World Baseball Classic, which takes place before the start of the MLB season has replaced the Olympics as baseball’s biggest international event.
Cricket was only played in the 1900 Olympics and then canceled as an Olympic sport due to a lack of interest and a lack of participating countries. Since then, cricket has become enormously popular, especially in countries such as India, Pakistan, England, Australia, and South Africa.
It seems unlikely to ever make a return to the Games, however, in part because the sheer length of most cricket matches would make it impossible to hold a full tournament over the course of an Olympic Games.
Polo was first introduced into the Summer Olympics in 1900 but was dropped from the Olympics in 1936. The Great Depression in the United States, as well as a slow recovery from the devastating effects of World War I in Europe and abroad, killed the popularity of the extremely expensive sport. Polo has never been able to come back from that to reach the popularity it once held.