Olympic Sports


This issue of our series which gives you the rundown of some of the most exciting sports and events at the Olympic Games will focus on some of the lesser-known ball sports which will take place in Paris. Here we will give you an overview of the history, rules, and who to keep an eye on at the Olympics this Summer.

Baseball and softball will not feature in the Olympics this time around, but it has been proposed for a return for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

The first sport we will take a look at is Badminton, which has featured at every Summer Olympics since 1992. Badminton is an exciting, fast-paced and tactical sport, which requires agility, speed and power. China are the most successful nation, dominating many Olympics over the years, winning 20 golds and 47 overall medals. There are five overall events in which competing nations can win medals in: Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.Fuchs and Michels for Germany against Natsir and Ahamd for Indonesia in Badminton at the 2012 Summer Olympics

During the Tokyo Olympics, China, unsurprisingly, were the most successful nation, with 2 gold medals and 6 total medals, whilst Chinese Taipei and Indonesia both got 2 medals (including a gold each). In the Men’s Singles, Viktor Axelsen from Denmark beat Chinese athlete and 2016 gold medal winner Chen Long. Axelsen lost the BWF World Championships Final in 2023 to Prannoy H. S., so both will be amongst the favourites for gold in Paris. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin from Chinese Tapei beat Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen from China in the Men’s Doubles Final.

In the female events, the Women’s Singles saw Chinese player Chen Yufei beat Tai Tzu-ying from Chinese Tapei, the Doubles event saw Indonesia reign supreme, as Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu beat the Chinese pairing of Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan; the latter are expected to come back strong in Paris, after winnig gold at the BWF World Championships in 2023. Finally, the Mixed Doubles saw an all Chinese Final, with Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongpin beatin Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.

Handball was first seen at the Olympics in 1936 for men in the form of field handball, but indoor handball was first introduced at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich for men and during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal for women. Handball is a fast and physical game which is exciting to watch and produces high scoring matches. It is played on an indoor court which at each end there is a 6 metre semi-circle in which only the goalkeeper is allowed. Each player can hold the ball for only 3 seconds and 3 steps before they must pass, dribble, or shoot. France are the most successful side in the competition, winning 3 golds and 5 overall medals.

At the Tokyo Olympics, France beat Rio 2016 gold medal holders Denmark in the Men’s Tournament 25-23, making it three gold medals in the event in the past four Olympic games for the French. Due to the two sides domination of the event, and the fact the two sides have won the past five IHF World Men’s Handball Championship, with Denmark beating France 34-29 in the 2023 Final, they will both be expected to make the Final at the Paris Games. In the Women’s Tournament, the French also came out on top in Tokyo 2020, beating the Russian side 30-25. They will be looking to retain their gold medal on home turf this summer and look as though they can challenge at the top once again, after beating Norway 31-28 in the Final of the 2023 IHF World Women’s Handball Championship.

Table tennis at the 2016 Summer OlympicsTable tennis has featured at the Olympics since 1988, with five overall events: Women’s and Men’s Singles, and Women’s and Men’s Doubles, as well as a Mixed Doubles event. A fast-paced sport, it is often noted for long rallies where one player attacks aggressively whilst the other staunchly defends. Table Tennis, as is the case with badminton, but perhaps even more so, has historically been dominated by China. They have won 32 of a possible 37 gold medals since the inaugural Men’s Singles event at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. In Tokyo, China won all the gender specific events, but the inaugural Mixed Doubles was won by the host nation’s athletes Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, beating the Chinese pair of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen. China is again expected to dominate the event in Paris, after winning every event at the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships in Durban and the 2024 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan.

Beach Volleyball was first introduced at the Summer Olympics in the Barcelona Games in 1992 as a demonstration event, becoming an official Olympic sport at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Beach volleyball is a quick game (each team only gets 3 touches at a time), as well as being extremely easy to understand, so can be extremely exciting to watch even to those not familiar with the sport. 48 Beach Volleyball teams will take part at the Paris Games this summer at the Eiffel Tower Stadium in Champ de Mars. The United States are the most successful Beach Volleyball nation at the Olympics with seven golds and 11 overall medals, but Brazil, despite only winning three golds, have won more medals overall, with 13.

In Tokyo, Norweigan duo, Anders Mol and Chrisitan Sørum won gold against the Russian pairing. Looking forward to Paris, the Czech team of Ondřej Perušič and David Schweiner won gold at the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Mexico, but reigning champions currently hold top spot in the Olympics rankings. In the Women’s event, April Ross and Alix Klineman from the United States defeated Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar for the gold.

Volleyball will see 24 teams of six compete at the Paris Games this summer at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. Each time a team wins a point, it wins back the serve, and their players must rotate position. At the Tokyo Olympics, the United States beat Brazil in the Women’s Tournament, whilst France defeated Russian athletes for gold in the Men’s Tournament, so will be looking to retain their gold on home soil this summer.China playing Serbia in Volleyball at the 2012 Summer Olympics

Ball sports can produce some of the most exciting action at the Olympics, with the events often being fast-paced and highly competitive, and there is no reason to expect any less from the events at the Paris 2024 games.

This year’s Summer Olympics will take place from 26 July to 11 August in Paris, France. You can easily keep up-to-date and stay informed on every ball sport event happening at Paris 2024 by creating a Fixture Calendar account or downloading our App.

Why not also check out our This Week in Sport blog, for a rundown or the top sporting events happening each week or get a useful overview of the 15 most exciting events taking place each month with our Fixture Calendar newsletter here.

Harry Stephens, May 2024

Photos by Ian Patterson, Javid Nikpour, CDE Photos

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