In Which Olympic Events Do Women And Men Compete Directly Against Each Other?

In today’s modern era, men and women are considered equivalent in every aspect of life, whether social, spiritual, behavioral, or emotional. On a day-to-day basis, women and men work, socialize, and live together and are not segregated in terms of different sexes. However, sport is one of the few niches segregating competitors by sex. The reason for this implementation is that the male and female bodies are physically built differently.

Men have more muscle mass, bone mass, and low-fat percentage. Hence, they are taller, heavier, quicker, and stronger than women, making it impossible for men and women to compete on an equal basis in most sports because most sports revolve around physical strength, strategy, and skills.

Most sports, in general, separate men and women to ensure fair conditions for all the players. Furthermore, it makes sports more enjoyable to both play and watch. However, some sports do not have separate male and female competitions. So, women and men compete directly against each other.

This article will cover mixed-sex Olympics sports alongside other Olympic mixed events where men and women play as doubles or teams.

Let’s get started.


1. Equestrianism

It is an Olympic sport where the riders compete using horses, and men and women contest directly against each other.

There is no segregation between men and women because the preliminary criteria for victory are good horsemanship, skills, and techniques. Physical strength plays little to no role in evaluating the rider’s abilities in equestrianism.

Equestrianism debuted as an Olympic event in Paris in the Summer Olympics of 1900. It became a permanent sport in the Olympics in 1912.

Equestrian is the sole Olympic event where men and women compete directly head-to-head with each other, and women dominate the winners’ category.

An estimated 30,000 athletes in the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the highest governing body of this sport, are women.

The following three primary equestrian disciplines are a part of the Olympic Games in which women and male horseback riders contest against each other on equal terms.


Dressage consists of both individual and team competitions. It has been a part of the Summer Olympics since 1912 as a mixed-sex sport in which men and women compete directly against each other.

The horse and the rider display advanced movements, showcasing their refined riding skills.

Three-day eventing

Once again, three-day eventing is an equestrian discipline where competitions are held at individual and team levels. This event takes three days in total in which riders participate in three fields:

  • cross-country jumping
  • dressage
  • stadium jumping

The highest governing body is the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), and eventing has been the last of the Summer Olympic Games since 1912, where riders from around the world. Participate.

The objective is to judge the horse and the rider’s courage, skill, endurance, and versatility. Therefore, it is one of the few Olympic sports where men and women compete directly against each other.


Showjumping is another equestrian discipline performed at individual and team levels. The male and female hunters/jumpers compete direct head-to-head. In this Olympic sport, the rider and the horse showcase their jumping skills over several obstacles. This discipline evaluates both the horse and rider’s physical and mental skillfulness.

2. Sailing

Sailing, previously known as yachting, has been an Olympic sport since 1896. Excluding the 1904 Summer Olympics, sailing has been present in every Olympics Game.

Until 1988, sailing was a gender-neutral sport, and male and female sailors competed together, but it eventually became segregated.

However, in the 2020 Summer Olympics, a sailing event called mixed Nacre 17 was arranged in Tokyo. It is a certain type of sailing vessel. Besides this, all other classes are separated by sex.

In addition to these sports, there are many other sports where men and women compete together, but they are not considered physical sports.

It includes:

3. Motorbike racing

Motorbike racing doesn’t have any kind of gender barriers. Therefore, female bikers are gaining worldwide recognition for their amazing performances against male riders.

In 2017, 20-year-old Anna Carrasco from Spain became the first female to win a world championship motorcycle race.

4. Darts

Darts is another sport where women have garnered massive recognition for professionally competing against men. Female professional dart player Fallon Sherrock made unprecedented history by winning against a man at the PDC World Championship in 2019.

Olympic Sports Involving Mixed Teams/Doubles

There are many prevalent sports where men and women form a team and compete against one another in mixed teams with the same number of male and female players. Here is a list of sports that operate in this way:


In badminton, there are mixed competitions alongside separate ones for male and female players. The mixed doubles badminton tournament has been held since 1996.


Sticking to its traditional roots, tennis is also played in the mixed doubles format, with one male and one female player per team. Mixed doubles tennis events have been held at the Summer Olympics since 2012.

Ice skating

Pair skating is an ice skating discipline where the pairs team consists of one male and one female ice skater. Ice skating in the form of mixed-sex pairs is one of the oldest Winter Olympic sports, and it was introduced by the International Skating Union (ISU) in 1908.


The luge mixed team relay was first introduced as part of the Winter Olympic programme in 2014, and it is completed by an equal number of men and women in each team.

However, traditionally luge had a doubles competition with male and female teams.

Wrapping up

From the above discussion, we can wrap up that there are only a small number of Olympic sports where men and women play against each other regardless of sex.

Notable improvements are made even year to organize direct competitions between male and female athletes in the Olympics. Five new mixed team events were introduced at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, including swimming, archery, Track and Field, Judo, and Table Tennis. Furthermore, the 2020 Olympics triathlon consisted of four teams, alternating between female and male teammates.

We hope there will be more sports where male and female athletes showcase their strengths against each other in the future other.

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James Moore
James Moore
James is co-founder of He works as a fitness trainer and nutrition specialist. His main mission is to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their sport goals. He believes staying in shape has an overall positive effect on body, mind, and spirit.

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