Which of these 7 discontinued Summer Olympic sports should make a comeback?


Golf and rugby are two Olympic sports lucky enough to make a return to the sporting show-piece for Rio 2016.

Many events discontinued by the Olympic committee have not been so lucky however.

This list describes just a few of the discontinued sports yet to return and our verdict on whether they should.

1. Underwater swimming

Michael Phelps swimming submerged facing away from camera
This might be the best view of Michael Phelps you could get if this sport was still going (Matt Slocum/AP)

A cocktail of stuff you've probably tried in a pool with friends, this sport held at the Paris 1900 games had a scoring system which compared the athletes' metres travelled with the seconds they stayed under.

Verdict: Spectators in 1900 might not have been treated to much of a spectacle, but with underwater cameras maybe it would be different? Don't hold your breath though.

2. Croquet

Man playing croquet visible from waste down
Sales of sun cream would have received a real boost if croquet was an event at Rio 2016 (Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

The dream of every owner of a flat lawn and a fine pair of summer shorts, croquet's first and only appearance at the Olympic Games was in Paris in 1900.

The sport largely revolves around knocking balls through hoops with a large mallet and had four events at the Olympics including doubles. A very similar mallet-wielding, hoop-shooting game called roque was an Olympic sport in 1904, but only athletes from the USA participated.

Verdict: Someone would need to jump through a lot of hoops to ensure this one's return.

3. Jeu de paume

Johnny Borrell reaches for a shot platying Jeu de Paume
Bizarrely, this is a picture of Razorlight singer Johnny Borrell playing the cancelled Olympic sport (Bob Edme/AP)

Another sport with only one Olympic appearance, the "game of the palm" is the sport which tennis derives from. Originally played using the palm rather than a racquet, hence the name, jeu de paume was won in 1908 by Jay Gould of the USA.

Rackets (or racquets but the original name is better) is another sport which inspired the creation of tennis and had two events at the 1908 Olympics. A very similar game to squash, which is distinguished by its more squash-able soft ball, rackets is held in an enclosed court with the ball allowed to bounce off the hard walls.

Players compete in the Squash Tournament of Champions
Squash is a physical game with a big following worthy of the Squash Tournament of Champions, depicted here (Kathy Willens/AP)

Verdict: Tennis makes enough of a racket as it is, so jeu de paume can stay in the history books. Given its following, it might be fair to let squash squeeze in though.

4. Motorboat racing

Wolseley-Siddeley controlling a motorboat at the 1908 Olympic games
Motorboat competitions had a whole different meaning 100 years ago (S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

Few have ever put forward Formula One as an Olympic sporting idea, however in 1908 motorised vehicles had three events. Water motor-sports involved three motorboat races, each of the same 70km distance but with different-sized boats.

Britain's Wolseley-Siddeley, seen above competing in the 1908 Olympics, ran aground in the event and France picked up the gold as the lone finisher.

Verdict: Although it has some support, motor-sports at the Olympics is surely an idea that ran aground long ago.

5. Cricket

Fielder just fails to catch the ball off the bat in a 2000 cricket match
Have the Olympics dropped the ball by not reinstating cricket? (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Okay, so this one is not that strange, but surprisingly cricket has only appeared once, at Paris in 1900. Britain beat France in a single, one-sided match at the tournament.

Despite this slightly dull Olympic history, there is a big calling for the sport to be reintroduced, including from a former England captain.

Verdict: As dull as some may see it, it's just not cricket to leave athletes of such a huge sport at home for Tokyo 2020. Other massively popular sports such as baseball and lacrosse have also been discontinued from the Olympics and who's to say they shouldn't get a look in too?

6. Ice hockey and figure skating

Patrik Laine sits down after his team's loss at the Ice Hockey World Championships final
Ice hockey in the summer was never going to stay on its feet (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

Perhaps we can blame global warming, or possibly the fact the Winter Olympics were not created until 1924, but ice hockey at the Summer Games is a thing of the past. Figure skating too.

Canada are top of the medal tables in ice hockey at the Winter Olympics and at the 1920 Olympiad in Antwerp, the sport's lone Summer Games fixture, they were champions as well. Meanwhile Sweden will be hoping for a return to the summer for figure skating, dominating during the early 1900s but tailing off since.

Florence and Edgar Syers ice skating in 1908 in black and white photograph
Florence and Edgar Syers won Bronze for Britain in the 1908 figure skating pairs (S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

Verdict: As cool as ice hockey and figure skating are, they have their own games.

7. Tug of war

Contestants compete in the tug of war in Pennsylvania, USA
As one of the best parts of sports day at primary school, the tug-o-war surely has a place at the Olympics (Joe Hermitt/AP)

Every British school-kid will fondly remember heaving and ho-ing their way to success or failure in the tug-o-war at primary school. The definition of a classic, the sport was purportedly played by the ancient Greeks in the original Olympics.

From 1900 to 1920 this gem, which features two team pulling a rope in opposite directions, was a modern Olympic sport and Great Britain are top of the all-time medal table.

There is some appetite from rope-pulling enthusiasts to bring it back too. The aptly named Alan Knott of the English Tug of War Association told The Independent last year: "If rhythmic gymnastics and synchronised swimming can get in, why can't tug of war?"

Verdict: If one conclusion should be pulled from this list surely it is this - the tug of war should be considered as an Olympic sport again.