AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Track and field is, of course, a staple of the summer Olympics. It's been around since the very beginning, but new sports campaign to get added or re-added all the time. And earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee approved five new sports for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, including skateboarding and surfing.
DAVID WALLECHINSKY: The International Olympic Committee decided that it was important to expand the kind of sports that were included in the Olympics to make them more relevant around the world and also to a youth audience and a TV audience.
CHANG: That's David Wallechinsky. He's the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians.
WALLECHINSKY: We don't really know how long these different sports will last. But it would appear that a sport can be included for one Olympics, two Olympics and then removed.
CHANG: Which made us wonder how many sports have suffered that fate.
WALLECHINSKY: The plunge for distance, swimming obstacle race, polo.
CHANG: Rope climbing.
WALLECHINSKY: Not the most telegenic sport considering it takes them less than three seconds to get there.
CHANG: And golf, which is back this year after a century-long absence.
WALLECHINSKY: At the 1900 women's golf, there was one paying spectator.
CHANG: But the one Wallechinsky was saddest to see go...
WALLECHINSKY: Tug of war.
CHANG: It made a couple of Olympic appearances but then was removed after some controversy.
WALLECHINSKY: There was an argument between the Americans and the British because the rules said you have to wear normal shoes. Well, the British police showed up in their work boots, and they said, well, that's what we normally wear. The Americans said that that was cheating. And so to avoid all these horrible controversies, tug of war was dropped from the Olympics.
CHANG: Wallechinsky says tug of war should be brought back. It's relatable. It's simple.
WALLECHINSKY: You pull the other team across the line. You win.
CHANG: But if the IOC really wants to appeal to the masses, it should accept a sport that nearly everyone plays or thinks they can play.
WALLECHINSKY: Bowling - I mean, come on. Lots of people bowl. If you can have curling in the Olympics, you can have bowling in the Olympics.
CHANG: Dressage, though, he says can go.
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