The 12 Weirdest Olympic Events In History

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.

Be sure to also check out what happens after the Olympics are over, these incredible Olympic flames, and take a tour of every Olympic stadium since WWII.

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

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

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

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.


    I'm a town planner and the fact that town planning was an Olympic event cracks me up! At least we know we wouldn't be in with much of a chance here in NSW..

    Also, how awesome does the 1900 Olympics in France sound?!! They had EVERYTHING!

      "I'm a town planner..."

      "...Here in NSW..."

      Ooooh, I have *such* a bone to pick with you! Finally, the subject of my rage has a name! And that name... is "Steve".

        I'm pretty sure Steve isn't single-handedly responsible for all of town planning in NSW. In SA alone (where I work) I reckon there's probably about 2,000 people directly involved in town planning at any one time. NSW is probably more like 7,000.

        lol keep your flames down - I'm a consultant town planner, not a public town planner - plus, to pick a bone with anyone in this state about town planning, you'd better build yourself a time machine, because the big issues, they were caused by decisions decades ago.

        Better get that rage checked Koppenflak!

          If you had read "on the margins of the good earth" and or look at townplans for most SA country towns you will observe that they are mostly laid out like mini-Adelaide's with a central "cbd", parklands and suburbia. However the industrial revolution and invention of laboursaving devices in the late 1800's put paid to need for all the extra subdivisions. The out of work labourers all heyed accross to Victoria to junt for gold and earned the title "crow-eaters" on their way accross the 90-mile desert (now called the 90-mile plain. How did you think they survived?

    I would care about and watch the Olympics if they still had Deuling , tug of war and obsical course swimming. The fire fighting could be interesting too.

    Opportunity lost. The English had a chance to get rid of their pigeons.......

    I'm not sold on super popular sports like basketball, tennis, cycling or soccer being part of the Olympics since each of them already has at least one mega event and a tonne of exposure and money. I much prefer watching the oddball stuff like curling that only Canadians care about and even then, only once every 4 years.


    I love the odd 'specifity' of some of these events... 100m Greek men sailors freestyle? Love it!

      they were probably all gay... Didn't homsexuality start in greece?

        Yeah. Greeks are all gay.That makes perfect sense Jock. Hurr durr derp.

    If dressing up in costumes and sitting on farm animals can be an Olympic sport, then what is the issue with tug-of-war?

    An Australian won the 200m obstacle swimming Gold Medal.

    Aussie Aussie Aussie!

    Clearly you have never curled.

    Beer drinking & beer bottle throwing should get up!!!

    Dwarf throwing is a very inclusive sport. Fire eating merits consideration. Eel wrestling would make good television. I think the IOC could try harder.

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