How to bet on the Olympics
The Olympic Games is the pinnacle for many athletes. Four years of grueling preparation. Four years of sacrifice. Four years of anticipation. The Ancient Greeks held the first games in 776 B.C. and ever since the inception of its modern version in 1896, every four years the world has united for a celebration of sport. As well as delivering unforgettable moments of magic, it also offers many opportunities to bet on the Olympics.
Best offers for the 2024 Olympics
Major Olympic events
For many sports fans, the track and field program embodies the Olympics more than any other sport.
Some of the most famous memories in Olympic history have been created in the athletics arena and many of the most noted names in the history of sport achieved their greatness here.
Victory in one of the blue riband events such as the 100m, 1,500m or marathon bestows instant immortality on the man or woman responsible.
The competition for medals in athletics is always incredibly intense – and that makes betting on the track and field events an exciting and challenging activity.
As a sport, archery can be traced back thousands of years, though it joined the Olympics in Paris in 1900. However, it was removed after 1920 and wasn’t welcomed back until 1972. There are now five events in total if you are considering checking out the Olympic betting odds.
Men’s and women’s individual and team events have been included since 1988, but a mixed team event was added for Tokyo 2020. The format has changed on a regular basis but currently boils down to 72 arrows per competitor to determine seedings. Then the top seed faces the lowest seed and so on, in a knockout format, until we reach the finalists. In Tokyo, there was a surprise in the men’s event when Turkey’s Mete Gazoz took gold, bucking the trend that has seen the South Koreans dominate. The women’s gold went to South Korea for the third consecutive Olympics, along with the team and mixed team events – and we suspect they will already be a short price on all Olympics betting sites to maintain that record.
Badminton was introduced into the Olympics schedule in 1972, initially as a demonstration sport, before becoming an official event 20 years later. Men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles were joined by mixed doubles in 1996 at Atlanta and since then China head the medal table with an impressive 18 golds in total.
However, in the men’s doubles, Indonesia come out on top with three golds to China’s two. It’s pretty clear which country is the sensible one to back when it comes to your Olympic betting, with China rapidly becoming the dominant force with the finances and coaching to continue to produce the best for years ahead.
Basketball has been part of the Olympics since 1936 but achieved new prominence in 1992 when professional players were allowed to take part.
The performances of the US “Dream Team” full of NBA stars – including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, to name but a few – captured the imagination, and continued the USA’s traditional domination of the sport.
American men and women have won 24 of the 29 tournaments held. Although the USSR’s defeat of the US by a single point in 1972 remains one of the Games’ most memorable, and controversial, moments.
The global popularity of basketball ensures a high level of Olympics betting.
Boxing is one of the most traditional sports at the Olympics, having featured at almost every summer Games since 1904.
Only amateur boxers are allowed to fight at the Games, and huge names such as Muhammad Ali and Anthony Joshua won gold at the Olympics before turning pro.
Traditional powerhouses of Olympic boxing include the US, Russia and Cuba, but no fewer than 79 different nations have won medals.
With its widespread appeal and long history, boxing is an Olympic sport that attracts significant levels of betting action during the Games.
As Olympic sports, canoeing and kayaking go back as far as 1936, adding the slalom option to the sprints at Munich 1972. There are currently 12 gold medals up for grabs in the sprints, and a further four in the slalom, but if you are considering a bet on the Olympics, where is your money best placed?
When it comes to the sprint, Germany tops the list, taking 29 gold medals to date. But keep an eye on competitors from Hungary, whose record of 28 golds is some return for a considerably smaller nation. There are less stats to work with on the slalom, but Slovakia heads the table with eight wins, France second with seven, and Germany third with five – competitors from all three nations look worth considering when searching through the odds on Olympics betting sites.
Numerous combat sports have featured at the Olympics since the summer Games were first staged in 1896. As well as boxing, the program now includes judo, taekwondo and wrestling.
Karate made its first Olympic appearance at the 2020 Games, but specifically for that single year and there are no plans for it to become a permanent sport.
Medals in combat sports tend to be shared between a wide variety of nations, which ensures a healthy level of global interest in the events as they progress. It also ensures a considerable amount of Olympics betting on the various sports, where a little bit of research can take a bettor quite a long way.
Cycling has been a fixture at the Olympics since the Games began in 1896, but the program has expanded in recent decades.
There are now far more women’s events on the track and road, while mountain biking was first included in 1996 and BMX racing in 2008.
France and Italy have historically enjoyed plenty of success in cycling, while Great Britain has added considerably to its medal haul since the turn of the millennium.
The popularity of cycling as a sport, and the number of events staged, ensure that a large amount of Olympics betting takes place on the events during the Games.
Equestrian events have been a staple of the Olympics for more than 100 years and attract entries from a wide range of nations – 50 in Rio in 2016.
Six medals are up for grabs in team and individual versions of show jumping, dressage and eventing and each provides fantastic visual entertainment for enthusiasts across the world.
Germany has historically been the most successful nation, but medals have been claimed by a host of other countries. They include Sweden, France, the US and Great Britain.
The cosmopolitan nature of the events ensures betting interest in many corners of the globe.
One of the oldest sports on the modern Olympic calendar, fencing has been ever-present since 1896, with the women’s event added in 1924 in Paris. Italy and Germany both lay claim to being the founders as far back as the 15th century.
Three types of weapon are now used - foil, épée, and sabre - across men’s, women’s and a team event at each edition of the Games. Italy’s Nedo Nadi is the all-time No.1, winning six golds in total – five of which were at 1920, including the unmatched feat of claiming all three team event golds.
Italy tops the medal table over the years, but there has been a sea change since 2016 with Russia and China beginning to show dominance. If we were going to bet on the Olympics fencing at Paris 2024, we would expect to see a bold showing once again from the Chinese in all disciplines.
Field hockey has been on the Olympic program for more than a century and is one of the most wide-open events at the Games.
Ever since India’s perennial domination of the men’s event ended in 1980, both the men’s and women’s events have been won by several different nations.
That adds considerable interest to one of the most popular team sports to feature on the Olympic roster. Accordingly, Olympics betting sites will see plenty of action when it comes to the hockey events at the Games.
After a break of more than 100 years, golf returned to the Olympics in Rio in 2016. Many of the world’s leading players took part, with the men’s event won by Great Britain’s Justin Rose and the women’s by Inbee Park of South Korea.
The quality of the competitors, and the extent of the coverage, means the prestige of golf at future Olympic Games will be enhanced.
Golf is a sport people enjoy betting on all year round and betting on the result of a tournament with this profile will certainly increase as time goes by.
The Olympics is by far the biggest stage that gymnastics enjoys. It has been part of the Games since they began in 1896 and the images of a perfect 10 inspire young people across the world to try the sport.
Amazing and unforgettable moments have been created by the artistry of famous names like Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci and Simone Biles.
The program has been expanded at recent Games to include rhythmic gymnastics and trampolining.
The large number of medals up for grabs ensures plenty of attention – and plenty of opportunities to get even more involved in the sport by wagering on the action.
Having originated in northern Europe in the 19th century, the sport of handball was first introduced to the Olympics in 1936, before disappearing until 1972. The women’s competition was added to the list at Montreal 1976, and the sport has grown from just 11 men’s teams and six women’s teams in Canada to 12 of each at Tokyo 2020.
France is now the team to beat in the men’s event having won three of the last four gold medals on offer (and a silver in 2016), so when we start scouring the Olympics betting sites, their odds are worth considering. The women’s competition isn’t quite so clear-cut and although France did the double in 2020, Scandinavian nations are always worth backing with Denmark and Norway taking four of the previous five golds stretching back to 1996.
Although the format has changed considerably, the pentathlon was part of the original Olympics back in ancient Greece, hence the term “modern” for our equivalent. Introduced in 1912, the five events today are pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse-riding, and running – deemed as the qualities needed to produce the complete athlete, with the women’s event added in 2012.
Until 1980 the modern pentathlon covered five days (one event a day), but now it’s a one-day event, The first three disciplines determine your starting position for the combined shooting and running at the end, with the first person over the line the winner.
With men’s, women’s and a team event there are three golds to hand, and when we look through the latest Olympics betting odds we will be hunting down the Russian man nearest to the top of the betting. Although Great Britain took gold in 2020 with Joe Choong (who may well make a bold bid to retain his title), Russia won four of the previous five and will no doubt be looking to get back to the top. The women’s and team event can be much harder to call with no dominant force, though the Brits do well and are always worthy of consideration.
Rowing, included at every summer Olympics since 1900, has seen Great Britain’s Steve Redgrave earn the moniker ‘athlete of the century’ after winning gold at five Olympics, a feat matched only by Elisapeta Lipa of Romania in the women’s competition.
There are two disciplines of rowing at each Olympics – sculling (where each competitor has two oars) and sweeping (where they have one). The eight-person team event has a coxswain to steer the boats, but in all others that responsibility comes down to the rowers themselves. All races are over 2000m with six-boat heats, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. There are a total of seven different events across each gender – single sculls, pair, double sculls, lightweight double sculls, four, quadruple sculls and eight.
The USA is comfortably the most successful nation over the years – although they have dropped off in recent editions. If you are looking through the Olympics betting odds for a bit of value, do consider New Zealand (dominant in Tokyo), and Romania, whose teams are some of the best, but rarely priced accordingly.
Although rugby featured at four of the early Games, it was removed after 1924 and not reintroduced until 2016, in the seven-a-side format for men and women.
Although there are currently 120 nations affiliated to World Rugby, only one country has won a men’s gold medal so far, with Fiji the recipients in both 2016 and 2020. Whatever the latest Olympic betting odds are, they must be worth considering. So far, the Southern Hemisphere have also dominated the women’s event, with Australia successful in 2016, and their great rivals New Zealand taking home the spoils in 2020.
Although sailing has been an event at the Olympics since 1900, ever-evolving boat designs have seen the rules and classes regularly change to ensure equality and to provide genuine competition.
Courses are designed to test both boats and crew to the limits, with varying angles and wind directions making a true test for all competitors and making for exciting viewing. There were 10 different classes at the latest Olympics, including open and mixed team events – from dinghys and sailboards, to multi-hull boats and kitesurfing.
Great Britain has dominated the sailing medal table in recent years, winning the most medals at every Olympics since 2000, with the exception of 2012 when Australia outdid them. Those two nations look a good starting point for our Olympics sports betting.
Shooting has grown from five to 15 events at the Olympics since it first appeared in 1996, and they are divided into three categories – rifle, pistol, and shotgun. The first two take place indoors with targets set at 10, 25 and 50 metres, while the shotguns are open air with competitors shooting clay targets launched in various directions and angles.
As well as individual events there are team events, from air pistols up to shotguns, and historically the United States have dominated and top the medal table with 116 total, including 57 golds. But in recent years there has been a changing of the guard and China have become the ones to beat. We’d suggest checking the results from recent international shooting events before considering your Olympics betting.
A “judged” event was added to the Olympics roster for Tokyo 2020, with two different disciplines known as ‘park’ and ‘street’. Both events start with 20 competitors who compete in four heats of five skaters, each with the top eight moving forward to the finals. In the ‘park’ event three scores count with five judges scoring from 0-100 and the top and bottom scores both dropped, with a similar process for the ‘street’ run – only with marking from 0-10 instead.
Naturally, we don’t have many historical statistics to look at but we can say that Japan did well at their home venue in 2020, winning both women’s events and the men’s street, with Australia taking the men’s park. We note that Brazil picked up the silver medal in three of the four events, so they could be a force to reckon with in 2024.
Soccer, or football, has been played at every Games with the exception of 1896 and 1932, with women’s soccer added in 1996.
Eligibility conditions have changed several times over the decades, with men’s squads now made up of under-23s apart from three over-age players.
This gives you an opportunity to spot future stars. Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola and Samuel Eto’o are among the big names with an Olympic gold in their medal collection.
The massive universal popularity of soccer ensures there is always plenty of interest in the matches, and makes this one of the most active Olympics betting markets.
A new event at the Olympics but one that has enjoyed a rapid rise - the first ever official indoor climbing event took place as recently as 1986, so making it onto the schedule by Tokyo 2020 was very good going.
There are three different sport climbing events, namely bouldering, lead climbing, and speed. The first sees competitors get as far as they can in a set time, the second to overcome the most objects in the least number of attempts in a set time – and the third to get to the peak as fast as possible. Medals are awarded via a combined score (so you have to be good at all three), though speed events will be added as a solo event at Paris 2024, and with 19 nations represented in 2020, it is clearly a growing sport. At Tokyo 2020 , the gold medals went to Spain (men) and Slovenia (women) – with Japanese women picking up a silver and a bronze, while USA and Austria filled out the men’s podium.
Surfing is split into two events, both “shortboard”, one for women and one for men, with no team events or other variations. Surfers perform on a given wave and are marked by the judges based on difficulty, variety, and types of manoeuvre.
In Tokyo, Japan picked up two medals (a silver and a bronze), possibly helped by home advantage, while Brazil and the USA claimed the two gold medals. South Africa and Australia also appeared on the podium – and these may well be the countries to consider for Olympics betting when it comes to surfing.
Swimming has been included in the Olympic program at every Games since the first summer Olympics in 1896, with women competing since 1912.
Some of the most famous names in Olympic history – such as Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Krisztina Egerszegi – sealed their stellar reputations with their exploits in the swimming pool.
There are more medals awarded in swimming than any other Olympic sport except athletics, making it one of the most watched programs during the Games.
Diving, water polo and artistic swimming are the other major events which take place in the pool, while the marathon swimming event takes place in open water.
With an estimated 40 million competitive table-tennis players in the world and millions more playing for fun, this is one of the most popular participant sports of all. Thought to be invented in the 1880s, it took until Seoul 1988 to be added to the Olympics, China’s dominance saw the format change to only two competitors per country so they could no longer take home all three medals.
There are five events available (men’s and women’s singles and doubles plus mixed doubles), and so far, of the 37 golds on offer China have taken home 32 of them, with South Korea winning three, and Japan and Sweden one each. It isn’t rocket science to suggest that their domination will continue into 2024, so keep an eye on the form of the Chinese contenders leading into the event to help make your picks.
For many decades, tennis was not part of the Olympic program. Since it returned in 1988, with no restrictions on the age or professional status of the players, it has become one of the most anticipated events at the Games.
Leading players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Venus and Serena Williams now have a gold medal sitting proudly amid their collection.
Indeed, some stars now feel that an Olympic medal is as prestigious as victory in a Grand Slam. Given the widespread popularity of tennis as a betting event all year round, betting on the sport at the Olympics is extremely lively.
Invented in the early 1970s as an alternative to track running, triathlon has grown massively in popularity ever since. The event consists of a 1500m swim, a 40km bike ride, and a 10km run. The men’s and women’s events debuted at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, with a mixed relay appearing for the first time in 2020.
After six Olympics, Great Britain top the medal table with eight in total - largely thanks to the Brownlee brothers. But Switzerland have been the surprise package with five medals so far, the same as Australia. We suggest keeping a close eye on the European Triathlon Championships nearer to the event for a clue to who is at the top of their game before placing a bet on the Olympics triathlon.
Volleyball was invented as a less strenuous version of basketball and was originally known as mintonette. Added to the Olympics in 1964 (though there was a demonstration version as early as the 1924 tournament in Paris) there are no variants, just men’s and women’s teams representing their countries.
Dominance has changed over the years from one place to another. Between 1964 and 1984 the sport was ruled by the Soviet Union and Japan, though both the United States and Brazil have come to the front in recent years, winning six of the last 10 men’s gold medals and three of the last four women’s. They’re your starting point when you next think about having a bet.
One of the historical sports included in the first modern Olympics in 1896, weightlifting stretches back to ancient Greece and ancient Egypt and was initially dominated by Austria, Germany, and France. The Soviet Union took over in the 1950s and stayed at the top until the 1990s, but since then the medals have been more evenly split, on the men’s side at least. Women’s weightlifting was added as recently as 2000 in Sydney and there are now seven different weight categories for both sexes.
China, and to a slightly lesser extent Turkey, have begun to dominate in all weight categories for men and it would be a surprise if the 2024 winners weren’t peppered with competitors from either nation. China have comprehensively dominated the women’s event since its inception, and although not at their best in 2020 (Canada, Ecuador, Chinese Taipei and Philippines won a gold medal each), seem sure to be back hungry for more at Paris 2024.
Olympics bets explained
Use our playbook to hone your betting skills.
To win gold
This is the simplest way to bet on the Olympics. Which athlete or team do we think will end up on top of the podium? Check out the Olympics betting odds for your chosen event, make your selection and place your wager accordingly.
Olympics betting tips
The Olympics is the second biggest sporting event on the planet after the FIFA World Cup. Given the enormous amount of attention the Games command, many sportsbooks see this as a great opportunity to attract new customers.
When you are choosing a sportsbook, look for a trusted operator with a good reputation and a wide range of markets on events across the Olympic program.
It’s also important to use a sportsbook with user-friendly platforms. Being able to navigate between markets, find the bet you want to make and place your wager quickly are all big plus points from a customer’s viewpoint.
Many sportsbooks will encourage you to bet on the Olympics with them and to become a loyal customer by offering special bonuses and promotions around the Games. These will include sign-up offers such as free bets or a particular amount of credit in your account.
Where will the 2024 Olympics be held?
7/26/2024 - 8/11/2024
Exactly 100 years since it last hosted the Games, the French capital will stage the Olympics for a third time.
With the 2020 games in Tokyo postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it means there's only a three-year gap to the next edition which may slighly increase the chances of reigning champions defending their titles.
Paris was announced as the host of the 2024 games in 2017, and the French are introducing breakdancing to the schedule for the first time.