Racewalking Is Not the Weirdest Sport to Have Ever Been at the Olympics

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Jul. 30 2021, Published 9:54 p.m. ET

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been a unique rendition of the Summer Olympics. After being postponed for a year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewers are interacting with players behind the scenes as they post videos from the Olympic Village on TikTok, bringing new elements to the games like never before.

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There were six new sports added to the games this year, and breakdancing has already been confirmed to appear at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. But despite how out of place some might believe the dance genre might be at the games, it's definitely not the weirdest sport to have ever graced the international games. Here are some of our favorite (and oddest) sports to appear in the Olympics throughout history.

tug of war
Source: Getty Images
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1. Tug-of-War

Your elementary school gameday event was actually once an Olympic Sport! Just like when you play with family and friends, two teams would line up on opposite sides of a rope and pull until the rope was tugged one way or another to a certain point. Apparently, the Great Britain teams were experts, as they often took home the most medals in this category. Tug-of-war was officially removed from the Olympics in 1920.

2. Solo synchronized swimming

No, this is not the same as the synchronized swimming event that is currently a part of the Summer Games. Instead of competing as a team, it was quite literally one person performing a similar routine. How does one swim in a synchronized manner if they're the only one in the water? The point of this event was to synchronize your moves to the music (something the current event also does) and those with the best routines scored the most points. This event lasted through the 1992 Games.

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pigeon shooting
Source: Getty Images

3. Live pigeon shooting

Live pigeon shooting made its debut and grand finale at the 1900 Paris Games. The point was, quite literally, to shoot at live pigeons. Competitors couldn't miss more than two in a row before they were disqualified. Over 300 pigeons were shot, and the gold medalist shot 21 pigeons total. This is definitely an event that, were it still a part of the Olympic Games, would spark some interesting PETA ads.

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4. Tandem bicycle sprint

Your romantic two-person bicycle ride just got a whole lot more competitive. The tandem bicycle sprint was a part of the Olympic Games from 1906 to 1972. The rules of the race were pretty straightforward: You and a partner had to bike in tandem on a two-person bike as fast as you could and be the first to cross the finish line.

5. Race walking

Race walking is currently a sport at the Tokyo Olympics, and it's also arguably one of the more memeable sports of the year. There's a litany of rules for this race that looks like your great aunt's morning power walks on steroids. Competitors can't have both feet leave the ground at any time and they have to maintain a specific walking pattern or they're disqualified. TBD on how much longer this will be an Olympic sport!

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