Making the cut: Sports which have made it to the Olympics, from Atlanta to Rio

Japan celebrates the return of baseball as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Japan celebrates the return of baseball as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Tokyo Games. PHOTO: AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently decided to include skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, karate and baseball in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In the light of this, we take a look at other instances where sports made the Olympic cut or were unceremoniously dropped.

We start with the Rio Olympics this year, where rugby and golf are poised to make long-awaited returns.

1. 2016 RIO DE JANEIRO


French rugby players train in preparation for Rio. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sports introduced: Golf, rugby sevens

Sports removed: None

After an absence of 112 years, golf is making its belated Olympic comeback in Rio. However, more than half of the men's world's top 10 have pulled out due to concerns over the Zika virus, leaving world No. 5 Henrik Stenson of Sweden as the leading contender.

Rugby last featured in the Games from 1900 to 1924, with the Americans winning the final two tournaments in 1920 and 1924. Back-to-back men's world series champions Fiji are favourites for the gold in Rio and will be looking to win their country's first Olympic medal.

2. 2012 LONDON


Nicola Adams fought her way to the first ever women's boxing Olympics Gold in London. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sports introduced: Women's boxing, tennis mixed doubles

Sports removed: Baseball, softball

Women's boxing was announced as an Olympic sport in 2009 to much opposition. One of the detractors, British boxer Amir Khan, felt "deep down" that women should not fight.

In fact, the sport was completely banned in the UK until 1996 because the British Board of Control had ruled that pre-menstrual tension made women too unstable to box.

As Brit Nicola Adams fought her way to Olympic gold with skill and dexterity, her triumph was as much a victory for women's boxing.

Baseball was voted out by IOC members in 2005, making it the first sport to be removed since polo in 1936. The constant absence of Major League Baseball (MLB) players from the Olympics was a big negative for the sport's Olympic bid due to scheduling clashes with the MLB . However, the sport will be reinstated in the 2020 edition of the Games after the latest IOC vote.

3. 2008 BEIJING


Team USA BMX riders during USA Olympic Trials for Rio 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Sports introduced: BMX cycling, women's steeplechase, open water marathon swimming

Sports removed: None

Marathon swimming saw competitors race over a 10km open-water circuit, which was an initial concern in heavily polluted Beijing.

Bicycle motocross racing also made its debut at the Games, even though it was not regarded to be as popular as fellow action sports like skateboarding or freestyle. A crucial reason for this was its strategic decision to be acquired by the Union Cycliste Internationale, which gave it the necessary organisational clout to be considered for the Olympics.

4. 2004 ATHENS


Female wrestlers training for the Rio Olympics. PHOTO: AFP

Sports introduced: Women's wrestling

Sports removed: None

While wrestling has been an Olympic sport since the inception of the Games, women's wrestling made it to the party only in 2004. It had faced the same discriminatory treatment as its boxing counterpart where people could not imagine women belonging on the wrestling mat.

5. 2000 SYDNEY


Taekwondo was introduced in the Sydney Olympics, but was subsequently shrouded in controversy due to alleged match-fixing. PHOTO: EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Sports introduced: Triathlon, taekwondo, trampoline

Sports removed: None

Taekwondo became one of two Asian martial arts to be included in the Olympics alongside judo. The sport's inclusion has often been under a cloud, as it was marred by judging scandals from the beginning.

The president of the World Taekwondo Federation, Chong Woo Lee, admitted to intimidating judges to favour South Korean athletes at the 2000 Games.

6. 1996 ATLANTA


The inclusion of beach volleyball was contentious, and the sport's attire was seen by some as an unnecessary distraction. PHOTO: EPA

Sports introduced: Softball, beach volleyball, women's football and mountain biking

Sports removed: None

An increased focus on gender equality in sports led to the inclusion of women's football in addition to the men's tournament which had featured in every Summer Olympics.

The inclusion of beach volleyball raised eyebrows as its legitimacy as a sport was questioned. It was also shrouded in controversy due to its usual attire of bikinis being seen as the main draw for fans and also an obstacle to the participation of more conservative countries.

Sources: ABC News, BBC, Fox Sports, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, ESPN, The Independent, Reuters