From rugby to judo, sports which never saw Indian participation at Summer Olympics

Indian taekwondo athlete Latika Bhandari in action
Indian taekwondo athlete Latika Bhandari in action

As the countdown clock for the 2021 Summer Olympics ticks to less than five months now, India is once again hopeful of its Tricolor being hoisted up the flag pole at the world’s grandest sporting stage.

While the country is striving to enhance its medal haul in more popular sporting disciplines like badminton and shooting, it hasn't yet been able to leave a mark on a range of sports at the Summer Olympics.

Also Read: Best Olympics ever for India? Here is the full list of medal prospects at Tokyo 2021

Here is a list of sports in which India is yet to attain Olympic qualification.

#6 Judo

Unfortunately, judo has never been India’s forte at international sporting events.

The first-ever national federation for the sport was set up in 1965. The Judo Federation of India led the martial arts to newer heights across the country.

The International Judo Federation recognized the Indian federation in the same year and the first-ever national tournament in the sport was held in India during the following year in 1966.

India competed in their first international event during the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and bagged three bronze medals to round off a successful campaign in the sport. Despite a successful run on the international circuit, judo still awaits its Olympic debut.

#5 Fencing

Fencing has long been a combat sport at the Summer Olympics, but is only now gaining popularity in India because of Bhavani Devi’s achievements in recent world-level tournaments.

Bhavani has put herself firmly in the qualification race for the Tokyo Olympics this year and has a great chance of becoming the first Indian Olympic fencer.

Also Read: Bhavani talks about battling against the odds to succeed in a fledgling sport

#4 Handball


The national handball team’s recent breakthroughs include a silver medal for the men’s team and a gold medal for the women’s team at the 2019 South Asian Games.

However, the country is yet to leave a footprint in the discipline at the Summer Olympics.

#3 Rugby

The 2016 Rio Olympics marked rugby’s return to the Summer Olympics on the world stage after a long 92-year absence.

Ranked 86th in the world, the Indian national rugby union team twice bagged the Asian Rugby Championships title in 2012 and 2015.

India recorded its biggest-ever victory against Pakistan 92-0 at the Rugby World Cup in 2008.

However, it still remains a sport in which India hasn't yet qualified for at the Olympics.

Also Read: 'Rugby is the most widespread sport in India and nobody knows it,' says Rahul Bose

#2 Volleyball

Volleyball became popular in the country long before its inclusion in the Summer Olympics.

India's first international breakthrough came at the 1958 Asian Games in Seoul, where it pocketed a bronze medal.

After both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams won gold in their respective divisions at the South Asian Games in 2019, the country looked a promising prospect for qualifying at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

However, India made an early exit at the Tokyo Olympic Asian qualification following consecutive defeats at the hands of Qatar and South Korea.

#1 Taekwondo


Since the 2000 Summer Olympics, taekwondo has been a regular sport at the Summer Olympics.

South Korea has been the most successful country in the sport since its inception, with a total of 19 medals including 12 gold medals, while China is placed second with 10 medals.

Unfortunately, taekwondo has never been an Indian forte. Despite a rich pool of talent on the Indian roster, no athlete has ever managed to qualify for any Taekwondo Olympic event.

India’s most recent feat in the sport came at the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal, where India bagged an impressive haul of nine medals across all categories.

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Edited by Rohit Mishra
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