Discontinued Olympic Events

Why isn’t Chess an Olympic game?

Athens, Greece was the site of the first modern Olympics in the year 1896. Some events have been tried through the years and for various reasons were discontinued. I think some of these events look like fun and would increase the joy of viewing.

Art Competitions

Art Competitions were held at the Olympics from 1912 until 1948. The events were inspired by Pierre de Coubertin[1], who wished to meld the competitions in sports with competitions in the arts.

The art competitions were dropped from the Olympic program because of the difficulty of determining the amateur status of the artists. All art had to be Olympic-related and some categories were architecture, designs for town planning, sculpture,

paintings and graphic art, drawings and watercolors, literature, epic works, lyrics, music for one instrument, music for orchestra, and compositions for soloist or chorus.


Piloting gas balloons at the 1900 Games, there were prizes in distance, duration, elevation, and target with and without stopping. The winning team (France) traveled about 768 miles in almost 36 hours!

Cannon Shooting

This is one I want back! Cannon Shooting was 17 events, but no one seems to know exactly what they entailed. The only year it was held was 1900 in Paris. They obviously had events for accuracy and distance, but 17?


The 1900, Paris France Olympics saw the game of Croquet. Three women were among the competitors, mostly French, and were some of the first females to take part in the games. There were four events held, one ball singles, doubles, singles-two balls, and singles handicap-two balls. France won all the events.

Dueling Pistol Shooting

The dueling pistol event was held in 1906, the Intercalated Games. It required competitors to shoot at human silhouettes dressed in frock coats, with a bull’s eye on the dummy’s chest. In the 25m Dueling Pistol au commandement the shooters held the pistol at their side, loaded and cocked. As the range officer asked if they were ready. When they said, “Yes,” the range officer then counted out, “Fire, one, two, three.”, giving the commands at a cadence of 100 per minute.

The shooter was required to get the shot off before the count of three. The gun caliber allowed was between 7.5 and 12mm, with a barrel maximum length of 30cm. They were one-shot pistols loaded by the muzzle or by the breechblock. The target was a silhouette of a human figure, with a life-like height of 1.57m and a maximum girth of 22.5cm. The 5-ring target was in the middle of the thorax with a height of 10cm and a width of 7.5cm. The competition was over 30 shots. A bulls-eye was worth 5 points, so a maximum score of 150 points was possible.

Kite Flying

Also in the 1900 Paris Olympics was kite flying. The competition for altitude was held over a one-hour period, the winner was the kite with the highest altitude (as verified by instruments recorders attached to the kite). The other competition category required the kite to remain in the air for two hours with 200 meters of cable.

The ranking was done by measuring the angle of the line from the kite to the point attachment with the horizontal, the bearing surface, the cable tension dynamometer, and appreciating the stability of the kite. France won all the events.

Motor Boating

For motor or powerboating was held once in 1908. There were three categories – the eight-meter, 60-foot, and open class. The men raced five laps (40 nautical miles) around a specific course. Average speeds were around the 19mph mark. It was not a great spectator sport, with the action taking place off Southampton, where virtually no one could see the action.

Rope Climbing

Rope climbing was an event in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924, and 1932. The single hanging rope had to be climbed using only the arms and was a great test of upper body strength. The 1896 rope was 45 feet but for all the other Olympics it was only 26.3 feet. In 1932 Raymond Bass (USA) set the record and received the gold with 6.7 seconds. In the 1896 Olympics, with the longer rope, only 5 competitors reached the top with Nikolaos Andriakopoulos of Greece winning the gold medal.

Running Deer Shooting

Shooting 100m Running Deer was a target shooting event that was part of the Olympic program from 1908 to 1948. The event consisted of a deer-shaped target that made ten 75-feet runs. Depending on the code of the event, shooters took one or two shots at the target during each run.

Each run, which lasted for about 4 seconds, took place at a distance of 110 yards distant from the shooter. The target had three concentric circles. The smallest circle carried four points, three for the middle circle, and the outermost circle carried two points. A shot that hit the target outside of the circles also counted for one point as long as the hit was not on the haunch. The event was judged for a maximum of 80 possible points.

In its 1908 debut, Oscar Swahn of Sweden won the gold medal in the single-shot event and the bronze medal in the double-shot event. Walter Winans[2] of the United States took the gold in the double shot event.

Solo Synchronized Swimming

Solo Synchronized Swimming was an Olympic event from 1984 until 1992. So was this one person synchronizing with music? There is very little explanation of this possibly misnamed event. It was then folded into the team events.

Stone Throw

The men’s stone throw was held at the intercalated[3] games in 1906. This event used a 14-pound weight that could be thrown in any manner chosen. In this solo year for the event, Greece took the gold with 65 feet 4 inches. The US took the silver with 62 feet 5 inches.


Six of the Olympics, from 1900 to 1920, enjoyed the sport of a good tug-war. The teams would try to drag the opposing team over a distance of six feet. If there was no clear winner after five minutes, the team that had pulled themselves furthest within the six feet won the medals.

This event had been part of the Ancient Olympics, first being held in 500BC. The top tug-of-war performances were by three Britains, Frederick Humphreys, Edwin Mills, and John James Shepherd.

Underwater Swimming

The Underwater Swimming event was only held once in 190o due to the lack of appeal for spectators. It was a 197-foot race where competitors were awarded two points for each meter swum underwater, and one point for each second that they stayed underwater.

Water Obstacle Course

In Paris in 1900, they had a water obstacle course where men swimmers raced a course in the Seine River. They raced 656 feet around poles and over a row of boats and under the second row of boats that were set up in their way. Frederick Lane (Australia) 2:38.4 took the gold, Otto Wahle (AUT) 2:40.0 the silver, and Peter Kemp (GBR) 2:47.4 the bronze.

  1. Charles Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin was a French educator and historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and its second president. He is known as the father of the modern Olympic Games. He was particularly active in promoting the introduction of sports in French schools.
  2. Walter W. Winans was an American marksman, horse breeder, sculptor, and painter who participated in the 1908 and 1912 Summer Olympics. He won two medals for shooting: gold in 1908 and a silver in 1912, as well as demonstrating the sport of pistol dueling in the 1908 Games. He also won a gold medal for his sculpture An American Trotter at Stockholm in 1912. In addition, Winans wrote ten books.
  3. The Intercalated Olympic Games were to be a series of International Olympic Games halfway between what is now known as the Games of the Olympiad.


Topend Sports

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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