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Have you ever wondered what sets Latvia’s heart racing?

It’s not just their captivating nature or delicious cuisine!

In the realm of sports, Latvia has its own distinct favorites.

But what ignites Latvian spirits apart from ice hockey?

Discover the most popular sports in Latvia in our list.

Most Popular Sports in Latvia:

  1. Ice Hockey
  2. Basketball
  3. Soccer
  4. Volleyball
  5. Biathlon
  6. Athletics
  7. Bobsleigh
  8. Tennis
  9. Rowing
  10. Cycling
  11. Beach Volleyball

#1 Ice Hockey

Ice Skating
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: 1920s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Latvia: Sandis Ozoliņš (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Latvia: 5,000

Ice hockey holds a special place in the hearts of Latvians. The sport’s fast and combative nature makes it a thrilling spectacle, drawing large crowds.

The Latvian Hockey Higher League (LHH) serves as the top ice hockey league in the country. Teams compete fiercely in heated clashes, showcasing their skill and tenacity. Legendary defenseman Sandis Ozoliņš, a seven-time NHL All-Star, is a celebrated figure in Latvian ice hockey.

Latvia’s national team regularly competes in the IIHF World Championships, with passionate supporters following closely. With a vibrant domestic scene and dedication to the sport, ice hockey remains Latvia’s undisputed favorite.

#2 Basketball

Basketball
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: 1930s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Latvia: Kristaps Porziņģis (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Latvia: 10,000

Basketball has a significant following in Latvia, with its dynamic gameplay and fast-paced action captivating audiences.

The Latvian Basketball League (LBL) is the premier basketball competition in the country, witnessing skilled teams battling for the trophy. NBA star Kristaps Porziņģis has solidified Latvia’s presence in the basketball world, becoming a prominent figure in the sport.

With the national team’s regular participation in international competitions like the European Basketball Championship and their historic 1939 EuroBasket victory, basketball has carved itself a permanent place in Latvia’s sports landscape.

#3 Soccer

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Latvia: Māris Verpakovskis (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Latvia: 15,000

Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, enjoys a passionate following in Latvia as well. The sport’s universal appeal and entertaining matches draw fans nationwide.

The Latvian Higher League (Virslīga) is the country’s top soccer league, featuring clubs competing for domestic supremacy. Forward Māris Verpakovskis is Latvia’s soccer icon, best known for his goal-scoring exploits in UEFA Euro 2004 qualification.

Latvian fans fondly remember the national team’s maiden appearance in UEFA Euro 2004, a significant milestone in the nation’s soccer history. The sport continues to grow, nurturing new talent and engaging supporters.

#4 Volleyball

  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: 1920s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Latvia: Jānis Šmēdiņš (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Latvia: 12,000

Volleyball, both indoor and beach, has garnered a strong following in Latvia. The sport’s exhilarating rallies and teamwork make it an engaging watch for fans.

The Latvian Volleyball League serves as the country’s top volleyball competition, with clubs fighting for the title. Beach volleyball has also attracted attention, as players Jānis Šmēdiņš and Aleksandrs Samoilovs have excelled internationally, capturing multiple FIVB World Tour medals.

Latvian volleyball teams have successfully competed in European and world championships over the years. Amidst their successes, volleyball’s popularity in Latvia continues to spike.

#5 Biathlon

Biathlon
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Popularity Surge in Latvia: 1990s
  • 🌟Most Famous Athlete from Latvia: Andrejs Rastorgujevs (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Participants in Latvia: 2,000

Combining cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, biathlon has captured attention and interest in Latvia. The sport’s mix of physical endurance and precision shooting presents a unique challenge to athletes.

Latvians tune in to watch World Cup events, the World Championships, and the Winter Olympics featuring their national team members. Biathlete Andrejs Rastorgujevs stands out as the most famous Latvian competitor, participating in numerous international competitions.

With growing interest in biathlon and promising young talent on the rise, Latvia’s presence in the sport is set to solidify, attracting more fans and athletes.

#6 Athletics

Running
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: Ancient Times
  • 🌟Most Famous Athlete from Latvia: Ineta Radēviča (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Latvia: 8,000

Athletics, the core of many sporting disciplines, has been part of Latvia’s sports tradition for generations. The country has produced numerous European, world, and Olympic medalists over the years.

Ineta Radēviča, a long jumper and European Champion, is one of Latvia’s most celebrated athletes. Latvia frequently hosts national athletic competitions and participates in international events such as the European Athletics Championships and the Olympics.

With advanced training facilities and a dedication to fostering talent, Latvian athletics continues to shine, producing top-performing athletes appreciated both locally and globally.

#7 Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: 20th Century
  • 🌟Most Famous Athlete from Latvia: Sandis Prūsis (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Participants in Latvia: 300

Bobsleigh in Latvia might be a niche sport, but it holds a particular pride in the country’s sports culture. Using Latvia’s natural ice tracks, bobsleigh competitors combine speed, precision, and teamwork to achieve victory.

Sigulda is home to the only bobsleigh and luge track in the Baltic States, hosting Latvian and international competitions. Bobsleigh pilot Sandis Prūsis is a reputed figure known for his multiple World Cup and European Championship medals.

With a dedicated fan base and consistent achievements in international events, bobsleigh continues to make Latvia proud, maintaining its status in the country’s sports milieu.

#8 Tennis

Tennis
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Player from Latvia: Jeļena Ostapenko (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Tennis Players in Latvia: 5,000

Tennis in Latvia has risen from a recreational activity to a passionate following. The sport’s elegance, tactical gameplay, and dramatic moments have captured the nation’s interest.

With professional players like Jeļena Ostapenko, who triumphed at the 2017 French Open, and Latvia’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams, tennis has grown tremendously in the country. Latvians also eagerly follow international events like Wimbledon and the US Open.

With a younger generation of players inspired by current stars, tennis in Latvia is set to continue its upward momentum, maintaining its status as a popular sport.

#9 Rowing

Rowing
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: Early 1900s
  • 🌟Most Famous Rower from Latvia: Daira Krištopāne (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Rowers in Latvia: 1,500

With Latvia’s abundance of rivers and lakes, rowing has become a popular sport appreciated by both participants and fans. Its combination of strength, technique, and synchronization makes for a captivating experience.

The Latvian Rowing Championships and Baltic Cup draw attention from the local rowing community, while Latvian teams and athletes also compete on the international stage. Daira Krištopāne, a successful Paralympic rower, has made a significant impact within the sport.

The cultural significance of rowing in Latvia continues to grow, fueled by local achievements and international recognition.

#10 Cycling

Track Cycling
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: Late 1800s
  • 🌟Most Famous Cyclist from Latvia: Toms Skujiņš (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Cycling Enthusiasts in Latvia: 9,000

Cycling in Latvia has developed from a mode of transportation into a popular sport. The diverse landscape and extensive network of trails make for exciting cycling adventures.

Toms Skujiņš, a professional cyclist, has garnered attention within the Latvian cycling community as a talented competitor in international races, such as the Tour de France. Latvia hosts exciting local races like the Riga Cycling Marathon, capturing the interest of cyclists and fans alike.

Cycling in Latvia continues to gain momentum, inspiring athletes to pedal towards greater achievements and fostering a supportive cycling culture.

#11 Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball
  • 📅 (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Latvia: 1990s
  • 🌟Most Famous Players from Latvia: Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Jānis Šmēdiņš (Latvian)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in Latvia: 3,000

Beach volleyball in Latvia is a sport that has seen a surge in popularity and success, particularly in the last few decades. Its energetic and fun nature attracts both players and spectators.

Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Jānis Šmēdiņš, a formidable beach volleyball duo, have raised Latvia’s profile within the sport, with numerous FIVB World Tour medals to their names. The Jurmala Open beach volleyball tournament is a local favorite, drawing participants and fans annually.

As Latvian beach volleyball athletes continue to excel on the international stage, the sport is solidifying its place in the country’s sports scene, attracting athletes and fans alike.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in Latvia?

Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Latvia, with a passionate fan base and strong representation in both domestic leagues and international competitions, driving Latvia’s deep connection to the sport.

What is the national sport of Latvia?

The national sport of Latvia is ice hockey, with its fast-paced action and skillful play deeply ingrained in Latvia’s sports culture and capturing the hearts of its citizens.

What are the most watched sports in Latvia?

The most watched sports in Latvia include ice hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and biathlon, each garnering significant attention from fans and contributing to Latvia’s diverse sports landscape.

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 ‘real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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