Olympic Sports


Welcome to the final article in our series looking forward to the Paris Olympics this summer. This article will focus on popular sports that you may not know feature at the Olympic Games, as well as looking at their history, rules, and who we think you should watch out for.

Athletics is perhaps what the Olympics is most synonymous with and has been contested at every Summer Olympics. The 2024 Paris Olympics will see a total of 48 events across track, road, field, and combined events. The Stade de France will host the track and field events this summer. The United States have dominated athletics events since the modern Olympics began, and they have won an unbelievable 827 overall titles and 344 golds.Basketball at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Men's Iran vs Czech Republic during the group stage

Perhaps the most highly anticipated of all of the sports or disciplines at the whole of the Olympic Games is the sprint events, which have produced some of the most iconic moments the Olympics have ever seen. In Toyko 2020, favourite Fred Kerley from the US lost out to Marcell Jacobs from Italy for the Men’s 100m, and Jamaican athlete Elaine Thompson-Herah beat compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson in the Women’s 100m, in what was one of the most highly anticipated sprint races of recent history. Another notable moment at the Tokyo Olympics, in the Men’s High Jump, saw Italian Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatari Mutaz Essa declared tied winners. Athletics events very rarely fail to excite viewers, so make sure you check out as many events as you can.

Basketball has been a mainstay at the Olympics since 1936, after featuring as a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1904 and 1924. At the Paris Olympics, the 5x5 men’s and women’s basketball events will see their prelims take place at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium, whilst the finals will take place at the Bercy Arena. 3x3 Basketball also features a men’s and women’s event, a version of basketball which is played on only one half of a basketball court and sees two teams of three players compete. The 3x3 events in Paris will take place Place de la Concorde. The US are the most successful nation in basketball at the Olympics, winning 25 gold medals and 30 medals overall. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that the US will come in as favourites for the two full basketball events at the Paris Olympics, after dominating in Tokyo. However, the 3x3 is harder to call, proven by Latvia winning the Men’s 3x3. Despite the USA’s grip on basketball at the Olympics, there have been shocks in the past, such as Argentina reigning supreme at the 2004 Games in Athens, after beating the US in the Semifinals.

Boxing sees some of its biggest stars break through at the Olympics, with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, and Lennox Lewis all taking part in the Olympics. The United States, Cuba, and Great Britain are three nations who have traditionally been the best boxing nations at the Olympics. In Paris this summer, there will be 13 overall events, seven weight classes for men and six for women, with the latter only being introduced to the Olympics programme in 2008. The events will be hosted at both the Arena Paris Nord and the Roland Garros Stadium. Cuba dominated the men’s events, winning four of the seven gold medals on offer, whilst the women’s events were more varies, with boxer from a different nation winning each event.

Boxing at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Sotomayor vs MatviychukField Hockey is an extremely popular sport worldwide, but perhaps one of the lesser focused on sports at the Olympic Games. It was first introduced at the Olympic Games in 1908 and has featured at every Olympics since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. There are two medal events, one for men and one for women, and in Paris Field Hockey will take place at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir. India is the most successful nation in the sport with eight golds and 12 overall medals, but their medal count is surpassed by the Netherlands, Australia, and Great Britain. Last time out in Tokyo, Belgium won gold in the men’s event whilst the Netherlands took top spot in the women’s tournament. Looking forward to Paris, Germany won the title at the 2023 Men's FIH Hockey World Cup so will hope to bring their form into this summer, whilst the Netherlands will hope to retain their gold, and look in good shape to do so after winning the Women's FIH Hockey World Cup for the ninth time in 2022.

Swimming has featured at the Olympics since the first one in Athens in 1896 and has been open to female swimmers to compete since 1912. There are 37 overall events for athletes to compete in, the second most per sport after athletics. There are a variety of strokes and distances, including freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and relay and medley events. The United States are the dominant force in swimming, with 257 gold and 580 overall medals, 28 of which come from Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time. In Paris this summer, swimming events will take place at Paris La Défense Arena. If Tokyo is anything to go by, the United States will yet again top the medal tables, but Australian and British athletes also performed well too.

Football, the most popular sport in the world, is perhaps lesser known for featuring in the Olympics as it is for some of its other major competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup, the European Championships, or the Copa América. There is a men’s and a women’s tournament, and squads in the men’s tournament at the Olympics must be composed of players under 23, with a three-player exception, to limit the number of elite players in a squad. It is likely one of football’s top nations, such as Brazil, Spain, France, England, or Argentina, as well as several others, will see success in football in Paris in both the men’s and women’s competition; the Brazilians beat Spain to gold at the Tokyo Olympics, and Canada beat Sweden for gold in the Women’s competition. Perhaps the most famous Olympics football moment is when Nigeria’s Super Eagles shocked the footballing world by winning gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta after beating Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

Golf featured at the Olympics in 1900 and 1904 and was not seen again until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In Paris, Le Golf National will host the men’s and women’s golf events, which will see the top 60 players per gender compete in the two events. Some of golf’s elite compete at the Olympics, with world number one, Nelly Korda, winning gold in Tokyo in the women’s event, whilst 2024 PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele won the men’s event, taking the USA’s gold medal count to 5 in the overall medal count, the most of every country.Rio de Janeiro - North American swimmer Katie Ledecky breaks world record and wins gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Tennis is another sport which may not be thought of as an Olympic sport, but it still offers a lot of action to viewers. It has been a part of the Olympic programme since 1896 but didn’t run as an event between 1924 and 1984 apart from as a demonstration sport in 1968. There are five medal events overall, a men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as a mixed doubles event. The Paris 2024 events will take place at the famous Stade Roland Garros, which hosts the French Open tennis major. Alexander Zverev won gold for Germany in the men’s singles, whilst in the women’s singles Belinda Bencic won gold for Switzerland. It is always hard to predict the winner of the tennis tournaments, as there are so many high-quality players worldwide, but if the total medal table is an indicator, the United States and Great Britain are likely to compete for medals.

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 sports 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 mojnews.comIlgar JafarovAgência Brasil

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