If I had a dollar every time I uttered “Huh, I didn’t know that,” while researching stuff I’d be a very rich woman indeed.

Hopefully, what I present to you today, will have you uttering the same words.

Polo, the hardcore game of stick and ball, was once an Olympic sport, which makes sense as it was how cavalrymen of old trained for time on the battlefield. You don’t even have to stretch your imagination too far to believe that if you’ve ever seen a game. There is no faffing about out there.

The sport being of military origin is how it ended up being on the Olympic roster in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924 and 1936. However, it’s also how it got the boot from the Games.

Until 1948 only men were allowed to compete in equestrian events as the Games were only open to military officers, not the rank and file. But as tanks and other motorized things pushed the need for horses to the wayside, the number of polo teams declined, which made it difficult to find enough officers to fill the quota.

It’s also an expensive sport and time-consuming endeavour.

First, you need an enormous field for the game to take place. Second, you need a lot of stabling. (At the 1936 Games, with five teams playing, stabling for a minimum of 125 horses was required.) Third, teams have to transport approximately 25 horses to the Olympic venue.

All that aside, polo was a well-attended sport. During the 1936 Munich Games, a crowd of 45,000 people gathered to watch the final match between Argentina and Great Britain. An impressive number even by today’s standards.

100 Years Later

With the 2024 Olympic Games landing back in Paris, the French Federation suggested polo as a demonstration sport, as a 100-year tribute.

Unfortunately, polo was beaten out by the likes of breakdancing, surfing and climbing. As sad as that is, on paper it makes sense. The new sports have a huge following of both athletes and fans in the tens of millions, while polo, bless, doesn’t even have 25,000 players in the world.

There are a few other factors that played into polo getting the thumbs down from the Olympic powers that be.

Firstly, and this should come as no surprise, Argentina owns the game of polo, and they were as unbeatable then as they are now. In fact, Argentina’s first-ever Olympic gold medal was won in polo. The IOC felt it was unfair.

Secondly is the fact that polo is the only team sport where team members are ranked at different levels, and this does not fit into the Olympic criteria.

And thirdly, polo is the only sport where amateurs can pay professionals to play with them, which is all kinds of crazy as far as the IOC is concerned.


If you’re lucky enough to be going to the Paris Games this summer or just Paris in general, you can visit the polo field that was used in the 1924 Games. It is found at the Golf de Saint-Cloud on the Green Course at hole three, the original clubhouse is still there marking the historical reference.

This was considered one of the most beautiful polo fields in France, located in the parishes of Garches, Rueil-Malmaison and Vaucresson, just outside of Paris, with a view of the Eiffel. 

The days of polo and the Olympics are long past, but at least horses are still in the Game(s).