Polo is a horseback riding sport that involves four players hitting a small wooden ball into a goal with a wooden mallet. Polo is considered one of the oldest team sports around and used to be played in the Olympics during the early 1900s. It has since been taken out, and there are a few reasons why.
Polo In Past Olympics
Despite its unique challenges, polo has been featured in the Olympics for the first time in the 1900 games. Riders competed in the years 1900, 1908, 1920, and 1936 before it was removed from the roster. During this time, Great Britain won both silver in 1908 and gold in 1920, while Argentine won gold during the 1924 and 1936 games. These games were played in Paris, London, Belgium, and Berlin. All these cities had adequate spacing and housing for the horses.
Polo’s Expensive Price
Back in the 1900s, Polo was a spectator sport, usually played by higher-end members of society. Each game involves four players and up to 25 horses. With so many horses and teams, this created the problem of who will supply them and how they will be taken care of. The city hosting the Olympics could provide the horses, or the members competing could provide their own. Regardless, maintaining 25 horses per team during the beginning of what would become the Great Depression wasn’t a feasible task. This played a large role in the sport being removed.
Polo Requires A LOT Of Room
Polo is a big game that takes up an enormous amount of room. In fact, one game requires as much as nine football fields worth of free space. Since the Olympics are hosted every four years by a different host, all countries must have that much free running space for the horses. This is simply not practical.
Polo’s Future In The Olympics
Although water polo is played in the Olympics, traditional horse polo has yet to make a comeback for the previously listed reasons. Despite this, it was voted by the International Olympic Committee in 1996 to be classified as a recognised sport. It was also performed at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics for the first time in nearly a century.