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The Modern Olympic Games

Olympic sports

The Summer Games sports

In Athens in 1896, competitions took place in nine sports: athletics, cycling, fencing, gym- nastics, weightlifting, wrestling, swimming, tennis and shooting.

The Olympic programme has come a long way since then: some sports have been discon- tinued (e.g. golf and polo); others were dropped and then reintroduced (e.g. archery), while several new sports have been added (e.g. triathlon and taekwondo).

In Athens in 2004 the programme will include the nine original sports plus a further 19: rowing, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoe/kayak, equestrian sports, football, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, softball, taekwondo, table tennis, archery, tria- thlon, sailing and volleyball. A total of 301 events are on the programme!

HOW TO BECOME A SUMMER OLYMPIC SPORT In order to be included on the Olympic programme, a summer sport must fulfil amongst others, the following conditions: it must be widely practised (by men, in 75 countries on four continents; by women, in 40 countries and on three continents); the Olympic Movement anti-doping code must be applied; and it must not rely on mechanical propul- sion (such as a motor).

THE TWO STAR SPORTS ON THE PROGRAMME The two star attractions on the programme of the Summer Games are athletics and swimming. These are the most widely followed Olympic sports in the world.

Athletics consists of a wide range of events. Some of these were performed at the ancient Olympic Games: foot races (varying distances), the javelin throw, the dis- cus throw and the long jump. The first swimming competitions at the Games took place in the sea or in a river. Today competitions take place in a swimming pool, usually indoors.

The current programme includes swimming (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly), water polo, diving and synchronised swimming.

IN THE PAST – DEMONSTRATION SPORTS Thanks to their popularity, the Games have been able to showcase some lesser known sports, which up to 1992 were included as demonstration sports alongside the official Olympic programme. For example:

  • Australian football, a national sport at the Melbourne Games in 1956

  • bowling, a sport little known in the host country of Korea, at the Seoul Games

in 1988

© Olympic Museum and Studies Centre, Lausanne, 2002

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