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Greetings, sports enthusiasts!

Are you ready to go for gold?

Jump into our Olympic sports list, sorted by popularity.

From seasoned athletes to aspiring champions, there’s a sport here for everyone to enjoy and excel!

Olympic Sports List

  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Baseball Softball
  4. Tennis
  5. Volleyball
  6. Ice Hockey
  7. Rugby Sevens
  8. Golf
  9. Athletics
  10. Swimming

#1 Football

Football

Originating in Ancient Greece, football, known as soccer in the United States, has developed into the world’s most popular sport. The modern version of the game, with regulated rules and teams, began in England in the 19th century.

FIFA, the International Football Association, organizes well-known tournaments like the World Cup and UEFA European Championship. Football has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1900, with men’s and women’s tournaments occurring every four years.

#2 Basketball

Basketball

Basketball was invented by Canadian-born Dr. James Naismith in the United States in 1891. The sport quickly gained popularity and is now played and watched worldwide, particularly in the USA, Europe, and South America.

Major professional leagues include the NBA in the US and EuroBasket in Europe. Basketball became an Olympic sport in 1936 for men and 1976 for women.

#3 Baseball Softball

Baseball Softball

Baseball traces its origins to England in the 18th century, and softball – a modified variant – was created in the USA in 1887. Both sports are especially popular in the United States, the Caribbean, and East Asia.

The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), showcases the world’s top teams. Baseball and softball returned to the Olympics in 2020 after a 12-year hiatus.

#4 Tennis

Tennis

Tennis, originating in France in the 12th century, gained popularity in England in the 19th century as “lawn tennis.”

The sport is now one of the most played and watched worldwide, with the most prestigious tournaments being the four Grand Slams. Tennis became an Olympic sport in 1896, took a break in 1924, and returned in 1988.

#5 Volleyball

Volleyball

Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan, a YMCA director in Massachusetts, USA. Today, it enjoys widespread popularity worldwide, particularly in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) organizes the Volleyball World Championship and the Volleyball Nations League. Volleyball has been an Olympic sport since 1964 for both men and women.

#6 Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

Originating in Canada in the late 19th century, ice hockey has become especially popular in North America and parts of Europe.

The National Hockey League (NHL) in North America is the most prestigious professional league, while the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) organizes international competitions, such as the World Championship. Ice hockey was introduced to the Olympics in 1920 for men and 1998 for women.

#7 Rugby Sevens

Rugby Sevens

A variant of traditional rugby, rugby sevens was developed in the late 19th century in Scotland. The minimalistic, fast-paced game is popular in various regions, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific.

The annual World Rugby Sevens Series is a popular international competition. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games for both men and women.

#8 Golf

Golf

The modern form of golf traces its beginnings to 15th-century Scotland. This club-and-ball sport is now played globally, with the USA, Europe, and East Asia hosting some of the world’s best-known tournaments, such as The Masters and the Open Championship.

Golf has had a tumultuous history with the Olympics, featuring in 1900 and 1904, only to return over a century later in 2016.

#9 Athletics

Athletics

Athletics, the umbrella term for various track and field events, can be traced to ancient civilizations, including Greece and Egypt.

It’s universally popular and features in major global sporting events, including the Olympic Games, World Athletics Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. Athletics has been a pillar of the modern Olympic Games since its inception in 1896.

#10 Swimming

Swimming

Swimming, with early evidence dating back to the Stone Age, is a popular sport worldwide, both recreationally and competitively. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) governs the sport, organizing events like the World Swimming Championships.

Swimming made its Olympic debut in 1896 and remains a significant draw at every Summer Olympics, featuring various competitive events for men and women.

More Olympic Sports

  1. Cycling Road: Road cycling began in the 19th century in Europe, and it remains popular worldwide. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) organizes professional races, including the prestigious Grand Tours: the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España. Road cycling has been an Olympic sport since the modern games’ inception in 1896.
  2. Boxing: With origins in ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece, modern boxing developed in the early 18th century in England. The sport is popular globally, and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) organizes amateur and professional events. Boxing became an Olympic sport at the 1904 St. Louis Games.
  3. Gymnastics Artistic: Artistic gymnastics has its roots in ancient Europe, popularized by Greek and Roman civilizations. It remains popular worldwide, particularly in the US, Europe, and Asia. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) organizes international events, such as the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. Artistic gymnastics have been part of the Olympics since 1896.
  4. Judo: Judo, a modern martial art form, was developed in Japan in the late 19th century by Jigoro Kano. Today, it is popular worldwide, especially in Japan, Europe, and Brazil. The International Judo Federation (IJF) organizes judo competitions, including the World Judo Championships. Judo joined the Olympic program in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
  5. Handball: Developed in 19th century Scandinavia and Germany, handball has gained popularity in Europe, North Africa, and Brazil. The International Handball Federation (IHF) oversees events such as the World Handball Championship and the European Handball Championship. Handball has been an Olympic sport since the 1936 Berlin Games.
  6. Table Tennis: Table tennis, also known as ping pong, was created in England in the 19th century. It is popular across the globe, especially in East Asia and Europe. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) organizes international events, such as the World Table Tennis Championships. Table tennis became an Olympic sport in the 1988 Seoul Games.
  7. Badminton: Developed in 19th century India and England, badminton has spread globally, particularly in Asia and Europe. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) organizes international events such as the BWF World Championships. Badminton joined the Olympic program in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
  8. Beach Volleyball: A variation of volleyball, beach volleyball was created in the 1920s in Santa Monica, California. It has gained worldwide popularity, especially in the US, Brazil, and Europe. The FIVB organizes the Beach Volleyball World Championships. Beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
  9. Water Polo: Developed in late 19th century England as a water-based version of rugby, water polo is now popular worldwide, especially in Europe, the US, and Australia. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) organizes the Water Polo World Championship. Water polo debuted in the Olympics during the 1900 Paris Games.
  10. Equestrian: Equestrian sports have been practiced for centuries, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome. Today, they remain popular worldwide, particularly in Europe and North America. Major events include the World Equestrian Games and other FEI (Fédération Équestre Internationale) championships. Equestrian activities have been a part of the Olympic Games since 1900.
  11. Fencing: Fencing, derived from early forms of dueling, traces its roots to medieval Europe. Popular worldwide, it’s particularly concentrated in Europe and the US. The International Fencing Federation (FIE) organizes world championships. Fencing has been part of the Olympic Games since the first modern games in 1896.
  12. Wrestling: With roots in ancient civilizations like Greece and Egypt, wrestling is popular across the globe. The United World Wrestling (UWW) organizes international events such as the Wrestling World Championships. Wrestling has been a pillar of the modern Olympic Games since 1896.
  13. Triathlon: Combining swimming, cycling, and running, the modern triathlon was developed in the 1970s in Southern California. The International Triathlon Union (ITU) organizes events, such as the World Triathlon Series and World Championships. Triathlon made its Olympic debut in the 2000 Sydney Games.
  14. Cycling Track: Track cycling originated in Europe in the late 19th century, with the first velodromes built in England. It is popular worldwide, particularly in Europe, Australia, and East Asia. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) organizes international events like the Track Cycling World Championships. Track cycling has been an Olympic sport since 1896.
  15. Diving: With origins in ancient Greece and Rome, modern diving developed in Europe and the USA in the late 19th century. The sport is popular worldwide, particularly in China, the United States, and Europe. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) organizes international competitions, including the Diving World Championships. Diving debuted in the Olympics during the 1904 St. Louis Games.
  16. Artistic Swimming: Formerly known as synchronized swimming, artistic swimming was developed in the early 20th century in North America and Europe. It enjoys popularity in Russia, China, the United States, and Canada. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) governs the sport and organizes the Artistic Swimming World Championships. Artistic swimming became an Olympic sport in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
  17. Marathon Swimming: Marathon swimming, a long-distance open water swimming event, developed in the early 20th century. It is popular in various countries, with famous races like the English Channel crossing and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) organizes the Marathon Swimming World Championships. Marathon swimming made its Olympic debut in the 2008 Beijing Games.
  18. Modern Pentathlon: Invented by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, the modern pentathlon was introduced in 1912 as a test of five different disciplines: fencing, swimming, equestrian, running, and shooting. It has a global following, with the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) organizing events like the World Modern Pentathlon Championships.
  19. Rhythmic Gymnastics: Developed in the early 20th century as a fusion of dance and gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics is particularly popular in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) organizes the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships. Rhythmic gymnastics became an Olympic sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
  20. Trampoline: Originating in the United States in the 1930s, trampoline gained popularity worldwide as both a recreational and competitive sport. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) organizes international trampoline events, such as the Trampoline World Championships. Trampoline became an Olympic sport in the 2000 Sydney Games.
  21. Alpine Skiing: With origins in the European Alps in the early 20th century, alpine skiing is popular in countries with suitable mountain conditions. The International Ski Federation (FIS) organizes the Alpine Ski World Cups and World Championships. Alpine skiing was introduced to the Olympics in the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games.
  22. Cross-Country Skiing: Developed in Northern Europe as a means of transportation and recreation, cross-country skiing gained worldwide popularity. The International Ski Federation (FIS) organizes the Cross-Country World Cups and World Championships. Cross-country skiing has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
  23. Ski Jumping: With Nordic origins in the 19th century, ski jumping became popular, particularly in Europe and North America. The International Ski Federation (FIS) organizes the Ski Jumping World Cups and World Championships. Ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924.
  24. Nordic Combined: As a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping, Nordic combined originated in Scandinavia in the late 19th century. The International Ski Federation (FIS) organizes the annual Nordic Combined World Cups and World Championships. Nordic combined has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924.
  25. Biathlon: Developed in Scandinavia as a military training exercise, the biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The International Biathlon Union (IBU) organizes the Biathlon World Cups and World Championships. Biathlon became an Olympic sport at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games.
  26. Bobsleigh: Invented in Switzerland in the late 19th century, bobsleigh is popular in countries with suitable icy tracks. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) governs the sport, organizing the Bobsleigh World Championships. Bobsleigh has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924.
  27. Luge: Originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Switzerland, luge gained popularity, particularly in Europe and North America. The International Luge Federation (FIL) organizes the Luge World Cups and World Championships. Luge became an Olympic sport at the 1964 Innsbruck Games.
  28. Skeleton: Beginning in the late 19th century in Switzerland, skeleton is popular in a handful of countries with suitable icy tracks. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) organizes the Skeleton World Cups and World Championships. Skeleton debuted in the Olympics in 1928 and returned in 2002.
  29. Curling: With 16th-century origins in Scotland, curling is popular in countries with suitable ice conditions, including European and North American nations. The World Curling Federation (WCF) organizes the Curling World Championships. Curling became an Olympic sport in the 1998 Nagano Games.
  30. Figure Skating: Developed in the 19th century in Europe as a form of artistic ice skating, figure skating is popular worldwide. The International Skating Union (ISU) organizes events like the Figure Skating World Championships. Figure skating has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924.
  31. Short Track Speed Skating: Originating in the 20th century, short track speed skating gained popularity, particularly in East Asia, Europe, and North America. The International Skating Union (ISU) organizes the Short Track Speed Skating World Championships. Short track debuted in the Olympics at the 1992 Albertville Games.
  32. Speed Skating: With roots in 17th-century Netherlands, speed skating has become popular in countries with suitable ice conditions. The International Skating Union (ISU) organizes the Speed Skating World Cups and World Championships. Speed skating has been an Olympic sport since the first Winter Games in 1924.
  33. 3×3 Basketball: A variation of basketball played on a half-court with three players per team, 3×3 basketball was developed in the 1980s in the United States. Gaining worldwide popularity, the sport is especially prominent in urban areas. FIBA organizes the 3×3 World Cup and other international competitions. 3×3 basketball made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
  34. Beach Handball: Derived from indoor handball in the 1990s, beach handball is popular in Europe, South America, and Australia. The International Handball Federation (IHF) organizes international events such as the Beach Handball World Championships. Beach handball is being considered for a future Olympic program.
  35. Breaking: Also known as breakdancing, breaking was developed in the 1970s as part of the hip-hop culture in the United States. The sport has spread globally, especially in urban areas. International breaking events include the Red Bull BC One World Final. Breaking will make its Olympic debut at the Paris 2024 Games.
  36. Cycling BMX Racing: Originating in California in the early 1970s, BMX racing is a form of off-road bicycle racing. It is popular in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The UCI BMX World Championships is an annual event. BMX Racing became an Olympic sport in the 2008 Beijing Games.
  37. Cycling BMX Freestyle: Developed from BMX racing in the 1970s, BMX freestyle focuses on creativity and performing tricks on a bike. It is popular worldwide, particularly in urban environments. The UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup is an annual event. BMX Freestyle made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
  38. Cycling Mountain Bike: Mountain biking emerged in California in the 1970s and has grown in popularity worldwide. The UCI Mountain Bike World Championships is an annual event. Mountain bike became an Olympic sport in the 1996 Atlanta Games, with cross-country as the race format.
  39. Futsal: Developed in Uruguay in the 1930s, futsal is an indoor variant of football played with five players per team. Futsal is popular in South America, Europe, and Asia. FIFA and the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF) both organize World Championship events. Futsal has not yet been included in the Olympic program.
  40. Hockey: Referring to field hockey, the sport is played on a grass or synthetic surface with a curved stick and a small ball. It originated in ancient civilizations and is popular in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) organizes the Hockey World Cup. Field hockey has been an Olympic sport since the 1908 London Games for men and the 1980 Moscow Games for women.
  41. Karate: Originating in Okinawa, Japan, karate developed in the 17th century and has since gained global popularity. The World Karate Federation (WKF) organizes the Karate World Championships. Karate made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
  42. Skateboarding: Developed in California in the late 1940s as a form of street surfing, skateboarding is now popular worldwide in both urban and suburban areas. The World Skate organization oversees international skateboarding events. Skateboarding made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
  43. Sport Climbing: Sport climbing, which consists of lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering, has roots in 19th-century Europe and gained popularity in the 1970s. It is especially popular in Europe, North America, and Asia. International events are organized by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC). Sport climbing made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
  44. Surfing: With origins in ancient Polynesian culture and particularly in Hawaii, surfing is popular in countries with coastlines offering suitable wave conditions, such as the USA, Australia, and Brazil. The World Surf League (WSL) holds the annual Championship Tour, and surfing made its Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

FAQ

What are the most popular Olympic sports?

The most popular Olympic sports include football, basketball, tennis, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, volleyball, ice hockey, and rugby sevens.

How many different Olympic sports are there?

Our Olympic sports list includes 54 unique summer and winter Olympic sports.

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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