The Summer Olympics are a time when top athletes from around the world represent their countries through sporting competition. Both sports-lovers and casual viewers watch the events for leisure, entertainment, or gambling. When watching casually, it's a good time to catch one's favorite sports, review new sporting events, and simply enjoy the U.S. competing against other countries. Whether watching the Olympics and using an online sports book, such as 5Dimes or Bookmaker to mention a couple, to place wagers, or watching just for enjoyment of the games, people should understand the various sporting events. To understand the various sports, review what each event entails and its role in the Olympics.
Archery: Archery is a precision-based competition that involves using a bow and arrow to hit a target. The target in Olympic archery is 4 feet in diameter, and the contestant, or archer, stands at the archery or shooting line, which is 70 meters away. The first competitor to reach six points wins the set, and there are five sets. Archery is one of the earliest sports to be added to the modern Olympics, becoming an official event as of 1900. Archery was discontinued as an Olympic competition from 1920 to 1972. Women competed in 1904 and 1908 and again as of 1972, when archery returned as a medal-based competition.
Badminton: Badminton is an indoor competitive sport that involves two or four opposing players separated by a net in a rectangular court. The competitors wield a racquet, which they use to hit a shuttlecock. The goal is for the player or players on one side to hit the shuttlecock once, sending it over the net. A score is achieved if the shuttlecock hits the ground on the opposing team's side. If a competitor's shuttlecock fails to clear the net or flies beyond the edge of the court, the opposing team scores. Badminton became an Olympic competition in 1992, and both men and women compete in this event.
Basketball: Basketball first appeared in the Olympics in 1936. Women's Olympic basketball became an official event in 1976. To score in a basketball game, a player from one team must shoot a basketball into a basket, or hoop, on the opposing team's side of a rectangular court.
Beach Volleyball: Beach volleyball, like regular volleyball, is a competitive sport in which one team seeks to hit a ball over a net to the other team's side. To score, the other team must fail to hit the ball before it lands in the sand. Another way to score is for an opposing team to hit the ball and cause it to land out of the rectangular court's bounds. While volleyball became an Olympic event as of 1964, beach volleyball joined the Summer Olympics as an event in 1996.
Boxing: A sport involving two individuals of the same gender fighting within an enclosure called a ring. The gloved opponents fight through a match of three rounds of three minutes for men and four two-minute rounds for women. The individual who has the highest number of points at the end of a match is the winner. In addition, a boxer may also win by knocking out their opponent. This sport entered the Olympics in the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games. Women's boxing debuted at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
Canoe Events: Canoe racing events first came to the Summer Olympics in Berlin in 1936. Canoe racing comes in two types, which are the slalom and sprint competitions. Slalom racing involves racing through a series of gates in a river rapids environment. When the competitors race on a course where the water is calm, it is called flatwater or sprint racing.
Cycling Events: Bicycle racing has been a part of the Summer Olympics since its inception in 1896, although women's cycling did not become an official event until the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Cycling events are all speed competitions and do not include acrobatic events such as dirt jumping.
Diving: Competitive diving has been a part of the Olympics since its introduction at the 1904 St. Louis Games, although it has undergone many changes. Women's diving was added as a competitive event in 1912 and expanded in 1920. Diving is an acrobatic competition where the diver jumps off of a springboard into a pool, and their score is subjectively judged according to the quality of their performance.
Equestrian Events: The Summer Olympics equestrian games are a series of events where horse riders compete against each other. The goal of the rider is to scores the least amount of penalties. It made its first appearance as a medal-based event in 1900 but was not seen again until 1912. Originally, only males could compete, although men and women were allowed to compete in all equestrian events as of 1964. It is one of few Olympic events in which men and women may compete against each other. Equestrian events in the Summer Olympics come in the form of cross-country, dressage, and jumping.
Fencing: Fencing first became a Summer Olympics competition in Athens, Greece in 1896, and women began competing as of 1924 at the Paris Summer Olympics. Fencing is a form of sword-fighting that comes in three Olympic competition forms, which are foil, épée, and sabre. The game is scored electronically, and points are awarded when one contestant hits the other contestant with their blade.
Field Hockey: Field hockey is like regular hockey except it is played on turf rather than on an ice rink and the hockey puck is replaced by a ball. Olympic field hockey competitions debuted in 1908 and became a regular Olympic event as of 1928, but it wasn't until the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow that the first women's field hockey games were held in the Olympics. Field hockey used to be played in two periods of 35 minutes, but as of 2016, the rules have changed so that the competition runs in four periods of 15 minutes.
"Football": What's known elsewhere in the world as football and in the U.S. as soccer became a Summer Olympics competitive sport as of 1900, with women's Olympic soccer events being added in 1996. The goal of soccer is for a member of one team to hit the ball with their head or foot into the opposing team's goal net. Only goalkeepers may touch the ball with their hands.
Golf: Golf is a sport where a player hits a ball with a club with the intent to cause it to fall into an artificial hole on a golf course. The object of the game is to get the ball into the specified hole in as few hits or strokes as possible, so the winner is the one with the lowest score. The playing area or golf course is typically terrain with low-cut grass and may have ponds, trees, and other features known as hazards. Golfing was only an Olympic event in 1900 and 1904 and has been approved as a competitive event in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Gymnastics Events: Gymnastics is a competition based on manipulation of the body to demonstrate skills such as balance, flexibility, artistry, and strength, and it is scored subjectively by a panel of judges. There are two main types of gymnastics contested at the Olympics (aside from trampoline, which is also a gymnastic discipline). Artistic gymnastics events include the balance beam, floor routine, uneven bars, high bars, vault, still rings, parallel bars, and pommel horse. Rhythmic gymnastics includes routines performed with a ribbon, a ball, clubs, or a hoop. Artistic gymnastics debuted with the first modern Olympics in 1896, and women's competitions were added at the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Olympics. Rhythmic gymnastics, which is a women-only sport, debuted at the Olympics in 1984.
Handball: Handball first appeared in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and was not seen again until the 1972 Olympics in Munich. In the game of handball, the goal is for a member of one team to throw the ball into the opposing team's goal net. The game, originating in Germany and Scandinavia, is played on a rectangular court that is 40 meters long and 20 meters in width.
Judo: Judo is a form of Japanese martial art involving takedowns, submission holds, and throws, and it became an official Olympic competition during the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and a regular sport as of the 1972 Olympics. Women's matches became a part of the Olympics in 1992.
Rowing: A sport in which individuals or groups of people race against one another in boats. The boats have attached oars that are used to move the boat through the water. The eight is the highlight of Olympic rowing. Both the women's and the men's eight feature one coxswain, who controls the rudder, and eight rowers. In a sweep event, two oars are used. Rowing has been an event since the original Olympic Games; however, it was canceled in the Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.
Rugby: Rugby is a game in which players attempt to move a ball across a goal line. The ball, which is typically made of pigskin, may be kicked or carried across the line to score. Players wear minimal protective gear, however, it is a full-contact sport. The Olympic version of rugby will be a less traditional "rugby sevens" or "seven-a-side" format. Previously, rugby at the Olympic Games was in the 15-player "rugby union" format. It has been an Olympic sport four times in the past, last seen at the 1924 Olympic Games.
Sailing: This is an event that relies heavily on weather conditions, as high winds, for example, may cause a postponement or cancellation. Wind is important to sailing because it is a sport that uses wind power to move the boats. At the Olympics, the races are in fleet format, in which fleets race on a course. The boats in each fleet are equally matched, and the event is to test the skill and experience of the participants. A women's match event was introduced in the 2012 Olympics. This event requires two boats that are exactly the same to compete head-to-head.
Shooting: Shooting competitions have been an event in the modern Olympics since its inception in 1896, with women competing since 1984. Olympic shooting is a precision contest where the contestants seek to place a shot as close to the center of a target as possible. Contestants compete using shotguns, pistols, and rifles, depending on the event. In the case of skeet shooting, clay pigeons are used as flying targets.
Swimming Events: Since 1896, swimming has been a part of the Olympic Games; however, women's swimming did not become a part of the Games until the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. Swimming events are pool-based competitions in which swimmer perform either the breaststroke, backstroke, or freestyle at varying distances such as 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters, depending on the event.
Table Tennis: Originally a game played after dinner by wealthy Victorians, table tennis involves the back-and-forth exchange of a ball across a table. The ball is struck using a paddle, and the table is sectioned by a net that runs across its center. The game is typically played indoors. At the Olympic Games, table tennis is divided into men's and women's events. Both men's and women's matches include singles and team events.
Taekwondo: Taekwondo, or "the art of the hand and foot," is a Korean martial art that first appeared in the 1940s. It is based heavily on strikes, mainly focusing on kicks, and first became popular among the South Korean military. It debuted as a medal competition sport in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Both men and women compete in this sport, with four weight classes per gender: flyweight, featherweight, middleweight, and heavyweight.
Tennis: Tennis is an outdoor sport in which a yellow or white ball is struck across a net on a court. There are either two or four players who strike the ball with a tennis racquet. The sport was not a part of the Olympic Games from 1924 to 1988, when it was reintroduced. Men's and women's tennis include doubles and singles events. The Olympics also includes a doubles mixed event.
Trampoline: Trampoline is a gymnastic sport that debuted at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. It requires athletes to jump on a trampoline that propels them as high as 30 feet in the air. During this time, they must execute routines that demonstrate a certain number of skills. Athletes are judged based on the jump's time in flight, its difficulty, and execution. Events are divided into men's and women's contests.
Triathlon: The Olympic triathlon is a relatively new competitive event, having first been included in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The first competition had a limit of 48 women and 52 men for a total of 100 competitors; however, in the subsequent 2004 Summer Olympic Games, it was changed to 50 apiece and then 55 of each gender for Beijing's 2008 Games. The triathlon is a three-stage race that tests an athlete's stamina and endurance, and in the Summer Olympic Games, it involves swimming 1,500 meters, biking for 40 kilometers, and running for 10 kilometers.
Volleyball: The indoor version of Olympic volleyball first debuted in the 1964 Summer Olympics. Both men and women's teams have competed in Olympic volleyball games since its Tokyo debut. See also beach volleyball.
Water Polo: A contact water sport played in a pool with teams of seven players on each side. Each team attempts to get the ball into the opposing team's goal by throwing or shooting the ball using one hand. Water polo has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1900 and the Paris Olympics.
Weightlifting: Weightlifting is a strength contest in which athletes compete to see who can lift the heaviest weights. It first appeared in the 1896 Olympic Games and has been a regular part of the Summer Olympics since 1920. Women's weightlifting first debuted in Sydney, Australia's 2000 Summer Games. This competition is broken up into weight classes, seven for women and eight for men.
Wrestling Events: There are two wrestling disciplines in the Olympics: Greco-Roman and freestyle. Greco-Roman wrestling is a men's event, but freestyle wrestling includes both men's and women's events. Greco-Roman wrestling is a type of wrestling in which the athlete uses the upper body or arms to attack and hold the upper arms or torso of their opponent. With freestyle wrestling, the athlete may use either arms or legs with no restrictions on whether they hold their opponent above their waist or below.