Olympic Sports Through History

Tia Winter | 16 August 2016

Since the inaugural games of the modern Olympics in 1896, the events that they feature have developed and changed considerably. Athletics was a part of those first 1896 Games, with winners getting a silver medal and an olive branch. Runner-ups received copper medals and laurel branches. Since then, the Games have had a strong history of introducing changes and new events as the years go by.

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New Sports Added Over Time

At the following Games, in 1900, Grand Prix Equestrian Jumping was included. There were 45 entries, but ultimately only 37 competitors. First and second places went to Belgium, while France took third place.

Boxing became part of the Summer Olympics in 1904, and has been contested at every Games ever since except in 1912. This was because the sport was illegal in Switzerland at the time, and the events were held in Stockholm. Judo, introduced in Tokyo’s 1964 Summer Games, has also only been left out of one Olympiad since its inclusion – in 1968.

Field Hockey was added to the events list in 1908, with India dominating the sport from the very beginning. The modern pentathlon, comprising fencing, swimming, show jumping and a combined event of pistol shooting and cross-country running, came 4 years later. Field handball was played for the last time at the 1936 Games, and the indoor version was introduced along with Badminton (as a demonstration game) in Munich in 1972.

Since synchronised swimming was first included in the Games, in 1984, the sport has been dominated by Canada, Japan and the USA. Russia has dominated since 2000, however, and has won every event between then and 2012. Badminton finally debuted as a competitive sport in the Barcelona Games of 1992, and BMX events in 2008.

The Olympics Goes Electronic

The most interesting new development are the inaugural eGames, which are to take place in Rio over the 15th and 16th of August 2016. This will be part of a 2-day pop-up event with the opening taking place at British House in Parque Lage in Rio, Brazil. 

The eGames will also take the format of the traditional Games, with winners playing for the honour of representing their respective countries and for medals in the biggest eSports arena. The International eGames Committee describes the event as the pinnacle of competitive electronic gaming. Teams from the United States, Brazil, Canada and Britain are to compete in the 2016 eGames, with more nations being added as the concept gathers momentum over the years.

The intention is for these positive feelings and support to extend to the eGames as well, so that the event can keep growing. It is to take place every four years, running concurrently with the Summer Olympic Games and being held in the same host country. These eGames have been spurred on by the immense popularity enjoyed by all types of online gaming, from casino to console and everything in between. Positioning the eSports competition as a tie-in event will give them the opportunity to take advantage of the festive spirits that the Olympics always foster. As the world of eSports continues to grow, the participation in and scope of the eGames is expected to as well.

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