Most bizarre and ridiculous sports from past Olympics – from firefighting to delivery van driving

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July 1908: The Unites States tug-of-war team in action during the 1908 London Olympics at White City Stadium. (Getty Images)
July 1908: The Unites States tug-of-war team in action during the 1908 London Olympics at White City Stadium. (Getty Images)

The Tokyo Olympics has seen a string of new action sports introduced for the first time.

Viewers have got to see the debuts of skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, 3X3 basketball and freestyle BMX, among others.

The introduction of the events may have not impressed some Olympic traditionalists, but the games have a long history of weird and bizarre competitions.

The 1896 Athens games, the first modern Olympics, saw rope climbing debut as an event and it made its final appearance in the 1932 games in Los Angeles.

At the 1900 Olympics in Paris, firefighting was a competitive event, with both professional firefighters and volunteer ones taking part in separate competitions.

The Kansas City “hook and ladder company number one” took gold medal in the professional event for the US.

All of the Olympic events in 1900 were part of the World Fair and the IOC never decided which of the events were “Olympic” and which were not.

Also at the 1900 games was a live pigeon shooting competition, which saw nearly 300 birds killed, with the gold medal winner alone shooting down 21 pigeons.

It was the only time that the event was held.

The games also featured a swimming obstacle event, in which competitors had to climb over boats and swim under them on a 200m course on the Seine river.

The games have held a string of motorsports events, which included races involving taxis, delivery vans, trucks, and fire engines.

The 1904 game in St Louis, Missouri, saw the only ever club swinging competition at the Olympics.

During the event, which historians say was a precursor to rhythmic gymnastics, the competitors swung the clubs around in a variety of patterns and routines.

In 1904 there were just four competitors, all of whom were Americans, but a similar event called Indian Clubs took place at the 1932 Olympics.

Sylvia Frechette of Canada celebrates after her silver medal performance in the solo discipline portion of Synchronize swimming during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. (Getty Images)
Sylvia Frechette of Canada celebrates after her silver medal performance in the solo discipline portion of Synchronize swimming during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. (Getty Images)

The tug-of-war may be something most people are used to at a British summer fete, but it was also an Olympic event up until 1920, with most medals being won by the Great Britain team.

At the 1924 olympics in Paris, there was a demonstration of the fighting sport of Canne de Combat, which is cane fighting.

A similar sport called Singlesticks, a type of fencing with a wooden stick, was also part of the 1904 Olympics.

At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the sport of solo synchronized swimming made its debut, with American Tracie Ruiz taking gold.

The sport was dropped after the 1992 games in Barcelona.

But that games saw the debut of roller hockey, the only time it appeared, and the gold medal was won by Argentina.

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