What Non-Olympic Sports Exist?

24th October 2019
We could say that sports are divided into two large groups: the Olympic and the non-Olympic sports. Even if you aren’t aware of it, it’s likely you’ve heard of some of the latter. Do you know what non-Olympic sports exist?

Did you know that the Olympic Games don’t feature every type of sport? In this article, we’ll tell you what non-Olympic sports exist today and why they’ve not been admitted into or even eliminated from the competition.

Non-Olympic sports and the Olympic committee

Featuring at the Olympic Games isn’t a ‘whim’ of the International Olympic Committee, nor something arbitrary. In truth, all sports must comply with certain rules in order to be present at the greatest sports event in the world.

A sport has to be regulated by an International Association, in order for it to be featured at the Olympics. This association will dictate the norms and regulations that all parties must meet worldwide.

In addition, athletes must comply with the anti-doping laws that are specified in the Olympic Charter. Thus, their national federations must perform studies and tests necessary to avoid the use of forbidden substances.

Equally, a minimum number of countries and continents are required, where the sport is practiced professionally, by both men and women.

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What are the current non-Olympic sports?

As many international associations apply to be accepted, the list of non-Olympic sports constantly changes. Also, some sports are ‘written off’ for not being compliant with the rules.

Also, for each edition of the Olympic Games, the organizing country can decide to include a specific sport as an exhibition or as an exception to the rule. This doesn’t always mean that the sport is accepted as an Olympic sport, or that it will appear in the next competition. Here are some of the current, non-Olympic sports:

1. Cricket: non-Olympic

A very popular sport in Asia, Australia, and England, cricket hasn’t been accepted in the Olympic Games yet. Although cricket is traditional and was practiced among English royalty from the fourteenth century, it was only featured in 1900, at the Paris Olympic Games.

2. Non-Olympic sports: baseball and softball

Both baseball and softball are incredibly popular sports in the United States, Central America, and Japan, but neither of them is an Olympic sport. Baseball has featured at several Olympic Games, but only as an exhibition or demonstration.

non-Olympic sports

3. Squash

This sport of English origin was invented in 1830 and was declared an official sport in 1864. In addition, it’s quite popular in Egypt and Pakistan. Currently, squash is played in 185 countries, but that’s not enough to become an Olympic sport. Still, many believe it will feature during the 2024 edition.

4. Bowling

Yes, bowling is a sport and it’s had the honor of being contested in an edition of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul (as a demonstration). Bowling has applied for consideration for decades now but remains unable to achieve Olympic status as yet.

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5. Mixed martial arts

Known as MMA by its acronym, mixed martial arts are another of the current non-Olympic sports. While they’re quite popular in the United States and Asia, and even resemble pankration (an ancient Olympic sport), MMA has not yet been accepted as an Olympic discipline.

6. Non-Olympic sport: American football

One of the most popular sports in the United States isn’t on the list either because it doesn’t have an International Federation to regulate it. Plus, American football is not practiced in at least 30 countries, which is a must.

7. Billiards

Billiards, also known as pool, is a very popular sport worldwide. While it was licensed to appear at the Athens 2004 games, that was its only presentation.

8. Polo

Featuring in five editions of the Olympic Games, the last time polo was included was in 1936. It was subsequently eliminated from the competitions because it doesn’t comply with the number of countries ruling. Polo is very popular in Argentina, Australia, Spain, France, and South Africa.

9. Basque pelota

As its name implies, this sport was created in northern Spain, although it’s also quite popular in Latin America and Europe. There are different modalities too. It was present in 1900, at the Olympic Games in Paris, and as an exhibition in Paris 1924, Mexico 1968 and Barcelona 1992.

All of these non-Olympic sports do their best to participate in the most important international competitions. Which one would you like to add to the repertoire of the Olympic Games?

  • International Olympic Committee. Factsheet. The Sports on the Olympics Programme. https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Reports/EN/en_report_1135.pdf