This graph shows when each new sport joined the Olympic Games

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This year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo will see the addition of five new sports, three of which will remain in place.


Skateboarding, rock climbing and surfing will be added to the Olympic Games roster, while karate and baseball / softball will take the path of many other sports that have made fleeting appearances over the years.

Our graph shows the new additions since 1984 that have remained in place – some reflecting new trends in the sport, while others have been added by host nations trying to highlight their strengths.

In 1980s flair, artistic swimming and rhythmic gymnastics introduced colorful outfits and contemporary music to the event. The 1990s introduced new trends like beach volleyball and mountain biking, while the 2000s did the same with trampoline, triathlon, and BMX. The only sports added during the 2010s era were rugby and golf, reintroduced to the Olympics during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Image: Statista

Careful observers will detect another trend in the new Olympic additions. In 1988, table tennis made its debut in Seoul. Being a popular sport in many Asian countries, South Korea has since won 18 medals in the competition, including combined gold and silver in men’s singles at the inaugural event. The same pattern is found for the additions of judo in 1964 in Tokyo, handball in 1936 in Berlin or boxing in 1904 in Saint-Louis. All events led to at least one inaugural gold medal.

Over 30 new additions have remained since the modern-day Olympics began in 1896 in Athens. That year, Olympic basic athletics and gymnastics were on the program, while competitions in fencing, cycling, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling also took place. Seven other sports of the time were added four years later in Paris, including rowing and equestrian sports.

Several other disciplines did not establish themselves. Perhaps the most famous abandoned sport is tug of war, which was featured from 1896 to 1920, but by no means the only curious one. Lacrosse was played in 1904 and 1908, while athletes competed in polo between 1896 and 1936. The 1908 London Olympics even included a water sports competition. Besides rugby and golf, which featured several times in the early 1900s before reappearing in 2016, tennis experienced the longest hiatus between 1928 and 1984 (13 games), followed by archery in 1924. to 1968 (10 games). The only sports that have featured in every Summer Olympics since 1896 are gymnastics, athletics, cycling, fencing and swimming. Rowing and water polo have been in the spotlight since their inaugurations in 1900.

Reprinted with permission from the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.


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