7 Weird Sports That Could Be in the Next Olympics

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Richard Bouhet / AFP / Getty Images

Sometimes the Olympics feels a lot more like Color War at a teen sleepaway camp than an actual world-class athletic competition. Most kids in America grow up playing Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, or even soccer, minus the bribes and fraud (probably).

But if you've ever wondered where they pick up unique and sometimes weird sports, short of the bucket brigade and parachute games, that seem to only really have a home in the Olympics, the list of semi-mainstream, non-traditional games is about to get longer.


Some 26 sports have applied for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Game, ranging from some we know very well, like baseball, softball, and football, to the wild and wacky like korfball. Tug-of-war is looking to make an appearance at the Olympics for the first time since 1920, so look for recruiting offices to pop up near the local all-you-can-eat buffets.

Here are seven wild and potentially awesome new Olympic sports that have applied.

Bowls
This is basically lawn bowling, in which the objective is to roll weighted balls as close to a target without actually hitting it. Because hitting a bowl is an entirely different activity.

Floorball
Also known as floor hockey. No ice, no checking, but floorball is pretty badass. Maybe you played it in gym class. A ball is used in place of a puck, goalies wear similar gear, and some of these dudes can flat out dangle.

Korfball
Basketball, but without a backboard. Or dribbling. Players pass and shoot a soccer ball — yes, a soccer ball — into a suspended basket at either end of a court that looks just like a basketball court. It was actually in the Games as a demonstration sport in 1920 and 1928.

Netball
Very similar to korfball, but netball actually has a net instead of a weaved basket to shoot at. According to Netball America, one of the best parts of the game is the self-confidence participants build through playing netball.

Flying Disc

Yes, it's absolutely Ultimate Frisbee. Just like your friends played on the quad in college. But for Olympic medals this time. 

Orienteering
Basically "The Amazing Race," in which participants use navigational skills, a map, and compass to navigate from place to place against a clock. Mix that with cross-country running, and you get orienteering, a game where the best performance enhancer is an iPhone with Google Maps.

Wushu
A Chinese blend of martial arts and dance, similar to a gymnastics floor routine, that can be an exhibition or actual hand-to-hand combat. Competitive wushu is made up of two elements: forms and sparring.

The International Olympic Committee will narrow the list down to the most, ahem, serious contenders later this month. A final ruling will be made by August 2016, leaving aspiring orienteering participants plenty of time to calibrate their compasses.

Here is a list of all 26 international sporting federations to apply for a spot in 2020.

• World Air Sports Federation (FAI)
• International Federation of American Football (IFAF)
• World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)
• World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS)
• Bowls Sports World Confederation (CMSB)
• World Bowling (WB)
• World Bridge Federation (WBF)
• World Chess Federation (FIDE)
• World DanceSport Federation (WDSF)
• International Floorball Federation (IFF)
• World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF)
• World Karate Federation (WKF)
• International Korfball Federation (IKF)
• International Netball Federation (INF)
• International Orienteering Federation (IOF)
• Federation of International Polo (FIP)
• International Racquetball Federation (IRF)
• International Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS)
• International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC)
• World Squash Federation (WSF)
• International Sumo Federation (IFS)
• International Surfing Association (ISA)
• Tug of War International Federation (TWIF)
• World Underwater Federation (CMAS)
• International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF)
• International Wushu Federation (IWUF)

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