We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Β Learn more.

Ever wondered about the essence of Ethiopia?

It’s not just in its coffee or history!

While running dominates the Ethiopian sports scene, there’s more to explore.

What else fuels the passion of this vibrant nation?

Discover the 11 most popular sports in Ethiopia in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Ethiopia:

  1. Running
  2. Soccer
  3. Basketball
  4. Horse Racing
  5. Stick Fighting
  6. Swimming
  7. Volleyball
  8. Cycling
  9. Table Tennis
  10. Taekwondo
  11. Chess

#1 Running

Track Running
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Popularity Surge in Ethiopia: 1960s
  • 🌟Most Famous Runner from Ethiopia: Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Runners in Ethiopia: 2 Million

Running holds a special place in Ethiopia’s heart, with its athletes being renowned for their long-distance running prowess. The country has produced numerous world champions and Olympic medalists, showcasing their incredible talent on the world stage.

Ethiopians passionately follow major running events like the Great Ethiopian Run and the Berlin Marathon, often featuring fierce competition between local and international athletes. Legendary runner Haile Gebrselassie has inspired generations of Ethiopian runners with his numerous world records and wins.

Running remains an integral part of Ethiopia’s culture, symbolizing the nation’s resilience and determination in sports.

#2 Soccer

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 1920s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Ethiopia: Mengistu Worku (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Ethiopia: 1.5 Million

Soccer is a beloved sport in Ethiopia with a vibrant fanbase, supporting both local and international clubs. The Ethiopian Premier League is the top-tier national soccer competition, featuring intense battles between teams vying for the championship.

Mengistu Worku, a legendary Ethiopian soccer player, is celebrated for his outstanding achievements on both national and international levels, setting a standard for aspiring athletes. Ethiopian soccer fans closely follow tournaments like the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, celebrating their country’s occasional appearances and cheering for African federations.

Through local clubs, community awareness, and fan engagement, soccer remains an essential part of Ethiopia’s sporting landscape.

#3 Basketball

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 1960s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Ethiopia: Netsanet Alemu (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Ethiopia: 200,000

Basketball, despite its foreign origins, has found a growing niche in Ethiopia’s sports scene. It enjoys a rising popularity, particularly among the youth, who admire both local and international superstars.

The Ethiopian Basketball League serves as the country’s top-tier basketball championship, featuring competitive matches throughout the season. Star players like Netsanet Alemu have made an impact on the local basketball scene and help promote the sport. Additionally, the NBA is closely followed by Ethiopian fans, admiring stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Basketball in Ethiopia continues to thrive as more local talent emerges, further integrating the sport into the nation’s athletic culture.

#4 Horse Racing

Horse racing
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Jockey from Ethiopia: Tigabu Lemma (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Horse Racing Enthusiasts in Ethiopia: 500,000

Ethiopia’s love for horses and their role in history has led to a fond appreciation for horse racing. The sport has deep roots in the country’s culture and serves as both a form of entertainment and a testament to horsemanship skills.

The Addis Ababa Race Course is a major venue for horse racing events in Ethiopia, bringing together jockeys, horses, and fans throughout the year. Tigabu Lemma, a renowned Ethiopian jockey, showcases the nation’s talent and passion for the sport.

Horse racing in Ethiopia serves as a reminder of the historical bond between humans and horses, and a celebration of that beautiful connection through competitive racing.

#5 Stick Fighting

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Stick Fighter from Ethiopia: Dereje Ayalew (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Stick Fighting Enthusiasts in Ethiopia: 300,000

Stick fighting, known as Donga in Ethiopia, has a long and storied tradition, deeply rooted in the nation’s culture. The sport is primarily practiced among the Suri tribe, where young men showcase their strength, skill, and courage.

The annual Donga tournaments are an essential event in the Suri calendar, drawing significant attention from both the local communities and tourists. Famous Ethiopian stick fighter Dereje Ayalew is a prominent figure in the sport, representing its competitive spirit.

Ethiopia’s stick fighting serves as a celebration of cultural heritage and an opportunity for young men to prove their prowess in the ancient art.

#6 Swimming

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Swimmer from Ethiopia: Robel Kiros Habte (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Swimming Enthusiasts in Ethiopia: 100,000

Swimming is gradually gaining popularity in Ethiopia, with its increasing access to swimming pools and facilities across the country. The sport offers an opportunity for leisure, exercise, and competition, attracting a broad range of enthusiasts.

Ethiopia has been participating in international swimming events such as the Olympics, with Robel Kiros Habte making waves during the 2016 Rio Olympics. His participation and dedication to the sport have inspired many young Ethiopians.

As swimming continues to establish itself in Ethiopia, the nation’s athletes aim to make a lasting impact on both local and global platforms.

#7 Volleyball

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Ethiopia: Aden Tuyo (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Ethiopia: 300,000

Volleyball is growing in popularity across Ethiopia and holds a notable position in the country’s sports landscape. Its engaging gameplay, tactical strategies, and team spirit have enticed many young athletes and fans.

The Ethiopian Volleyball Championship is the country’s premier volleyball competition, with clubs from across the nation fiercely competing for the title. Star players like Aden Tuyo have captured the public’s attention with their skillful performances.

As more and more people engage in volleyball, Ethiopia’s love for the sport continues to grow, providing a platform for local talents to flourish.

#8 Cycling

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Cyclist from Ethiopia: Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Cycling Enthusiasts in Ethiopia: 500,000

Cycling is a sport embraced by Ethiopians for both leisure and competition. The country’s diverse landscapes offer thrilling challenges for cyclists, fueling their passion for the sport.

Ethiopians closely follow international cycling events such as the Tour de France, where the nation’s representation is on the rise. Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay is a renowned Ethiopian cyclist who has participated in multiple global cycling competitions, cementing his status in the sport.

With the growing interest in cycling, Ethiopia’s potential to produce world-class talent in the sport is only set to rise.

#9 Table Tennis

Table Tennis
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: Mid-20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Ethiopia: Girma Tadesse (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Ethiopia: 50,000

Table tennis has found a fanbase in Ethiopia and is steadily growing in popularity. The sport’s rapid pace, precision, and strategic gameplay make it an exciting watch and engaging activity for participants.

Both local and international table tennis tournaments grab the attention of Ethiopian enthusiasts, as they track the performance of their favorite players and teams. Ethiopian table tennis champion Girma Tadesse has inspired many aspiring players locally.

As more people participate in and follow table tennis, the sport’s prominence in Ethiopia’s athletic culture is set to strengthen and expand.

#10 Taekwondo

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: Late 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Practitioner from Ethiopia: Seble Eshetu (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Practitioners in Ethiopia: 30,000

Taekwondo is gaining recognition in Ethiopia’s sports scene, attracting individuals seeking discipline, self-defense skills, and athletic outlets. The Korean martial art has found a new home in Ethiopia, with many practicing its techniques and embracing its principles.

The Ethiopian Taekwondo Federation regularly organizes events and championships to encourage competitive growth and showcase local talents. Seble Eshetu, a prominent Ethiopian Taekwondo practitioner, has represented her country in international competitions, further highlighting the sport’s growing influence.

With increased access to training facilities and events, Taekwondo’s significance in Ethiopia’s sports environment is on the rise.

#11 Chess

  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Ethiopia: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Ethiopia: Girma Asgedom (Ethiopian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Chess Enthusiasts in Ethiopia: 40,000

Chess may not have originated in Ethiopia, but it has earned a dedicated following among those who appreciate its strategic depth and intellectual challenges. The game’s intricate nature and demand for mental prowess make it a unique, captivating pursuit.

Ethiopian chess enthusiasts take part in local tournaments while also keeping a close eye on international championships like the World Chess Championship. Girma Asgedom, a well-known Ethiopian chess player, has competed at the international level, raising the nation’s profile in the chess community.

Drawing in new players and fans yearly, chess continues to maintain a firm presence in Ethiopia’s diverse sporting landscape.


What is the most popular sport in Ethiopia?

Running is the most popular sport in Ethiopia, deeply rooted in the nation’s culture and producing numerous world champions and Olympic medalists in long-distance events.

What is the national sport of Ethiopia?

While Ethiopia does not have an official national sport, running holds a special place in the country’s culture and is considered the most dominant sport, with passionate followers and exceptional athletes.

What are the most watched sports in Ethiopia?

The most watched sports in Ethiopia include running, soccer, basketball, horse racing, and stick fighting, each attracting significant local interest and fostering a diverse athletic culture across the nation.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments