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How the Olympics expanded in the 2010s

Big air

Sebastien Toutant from Canada performs a pirouette during the Snowboard Big Air finals in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 24 February 2018. Photo: Daniel Karmann/dpa (Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

picture alliance via Getty Image

The Summer and Winter Olympics each continued to grow through the decade, with a host of new events and sports added to the programs.

In 2018, PyeongChang had 102 events, up from 86 eight years earlier in Vancouver.

The IOC had put the brakes on growth of the Summer Games, dropping sports from the program as new ones came in. The 2012 Olympics in London had 302 events, the same as the 2008 Games. In Rio, the program grew only slightly to 306. Next year in Tokyo, though, the Games will expand to 339 events.

READ: All the new sports and events in 2020

Most of the new events fall into a few categories.


Figure skating’s team event and mixed relays in both biathlon and luge joined the Olympics in Sochi.

Four years later, Alpine skiing also got a mixed team event, and curling added a mixed doubles competition.

The Summer Games have added mixed swimming relays.


Women’s boxing joined the Olympics in 2012. After years of wrangling with the IOC, women’s ski jumping made its Olympic debut in 2014.


The snowboarding revolution that started in 1998 continued with slopestyle making its debut in 2014. The same year, freestyle skiing rapidly expanded, adding its own slopestyle events while finally getting into the Olympic halfpipe. Add parallel slaloms in snowboarding, and the splashy snow sports accounted for all of the new 2014 events except for women’s ski jumping and the new mixed events.

Snowboarding expanded yet again in 2018 with big air, though the parallel slaloms were dropped. Another modern event of sorts was added to the program that year with the long-track speedskating mass start, resembling the chaos of short-track races.

The Summer Olympics will finally catch the modern wave with surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing making their debuts in 2020. BMX will also add a freestyle event.

Another sport bidding for the 2024 Games is breakdancing, which peaked as a U.S. craze a few decades ago but has seen a rise in global competition, including the 2018 Youth Olympics.


Rugby sevens debuted in 2016. Baseball and softball will return from Olympic exile in 2020, when 3x3 basketball will be played for the first time.

The other sports added to the Olympics since 2008 are golf (2016) and karate (2020).

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