Which Countries Invented the Various Olympic Events?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article “Why Are You So Bad At the Sport You Invented?” profiling the respective countries which lay the claim to have invented the various Olympic sports.

You probably knew that the marathon has its roots in Greece. But did you know that Iraq invented boxing, Egypt invented archery and fencing, Mongolia invented field hockey, France invented the triathlon, Great Britain invented the shot put and water polo, Japan invented swimming, and Germany invented diving? I didn’t.

Here’s how the WSJ referenced the invention of the various Olympic sports:

The countries were assigned case-by-case based on the circumstance which meant most to the development of the modern sport. Some countries were designated due to that place having created the modern version of the sport, like Germany’s claim of diving—something they originally liked to call “fancy diving.” Others were assigned because countries created a device that essentially birthed a sport, like Canada and the canoe. Some were awarded for having created an earlier version of a modern sport, like China’s claim to soccer or Mongolia’s claim of field hockey. And other sports were awarded to countries who were the first to hold documented competitions, like Japan and swimming.

And as for the results:

By this simple methodology, the most inexcusably horrible country at a sport they claim is Iraq. An Iraqi has never won one of the 841 total Olympic boxing medals despite their claim of boxing as the Ancient Sumerians created carvings depicting boxers in 3000 BC. Egypt and Ireland have similar calamities based on ineptitude in sports they devised in ancient times. Greece has managed to medal at least once in every sport they claim via the Ancient Games, eight in total. If you’re Greek flaunt your heritage in the discus. Don’t watch freestyle wrestling.

This interactive graphic provides the summary and is a must-see.

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