1920: England beats U.S. in tug of war, the Olympics.
Image: Bettmann Archive
When we think of Olympic athletes, swimmers, gymnasts and runners come to mind. But tug-of-war champions and rope climbers?
In the early days of the modern Olympics, host countries had discretion over the games program, which usually consisted of quirky and unconventional sports that highlighted the country’s talents and traditions.
At the 1900 Paris Olympics, hot-air ballooning was a demonstration event, the 200-meter swimming race took place in a river and featured an obstacle course, and live pigeons were used as targets during the shooting competition.
As the Olympics developed, live pigeons were replaced with clay targets, swimming and diving competitions were moved to pools and the International Olympics Committee began sanctioning the events. Which is why today the games include a fairly consistent roster of sports including swimming, gymnastics, and track and field.
Here are eight of the strangest events that have at one time or another taken place at the Olympics.