Ribbon dancing, synchronised diving, curling? These Olympic events push the definition of “sport” nearly to its breaking point but aren’t even close to the oddest in the Games’ 116-year history. Our friends at Oobject have assembled 12 contests that take the gold for absurdity.
Solo Synchronised Swimming
Synchronized swimming is one of the more absurd sports to ever enter the Olympics yet its appearance was modern and repeated. Everyone assumed that the synchronisation was between the contestants, so the solo version seemed plain surreal.
Walter Winans Winner Of Both Olympic Sculpture And Shooting Medals
Winans is one of only two people who won medals for both art and sports competitions.
The German Military Patrol Team From The 1928 Winter Olympics
We… shit… you… not. Unbelievably, military patrol was a demonstration sport at the 1924, 28, 36 and 48 events. It is the precursor to the modern biathlon which sounds a lot more politically correct.
Fire fighting was an unofficial event at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Competitions were held for both professional and volunteer firefighters. The US report of the 1900 Games, prepared by AG Spalding, devotes a whole page to the competition, which was won by Kansas City.
Cannon shooting was a demonstration sport in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.
Tug Of War, Paris 1900
A combined Swedish/Danish team beats France for gold in the tug of war.
Men’s 200m Swimming Obstacle Course
Held at the Paris 1900 games. Obstacles included basically anything that was floating down the Seine during the event.
Live Pigeon Shooting
The only time this event was held was at the 1900 Paris Olympics.
Town Planning 1928, ’32, ’36, ’48
Shown here is Marine Park in Brooklyn, for which Charles Downing Lay won a silver medal in town planning in the 1936 Olympics.
The event was held twice. Wearing masks, contestants would try and shoot each other in the face with wax bullets. In the 1908 Olympics, where the event itself was actually held in 1906, the impressively names Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon competed. He is famed for having later survived the sinking of the Titanic.
Pigeon racing was a demonstration sport in the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. Its unknown whether any of the competitors also entered the live pigeon shoot.
Men’s Sailors 100m Freestyle
This event was actually even more specific than being only open to sailors. It was only open to Greek sailors, and was held in the 1896 Olympics. Not surprisingly it was won by Greece and considered a ruse to boost the host nations medal count.