How Old Do You Have to Be to Compete in the Olympics? It Depends on the Sport

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The Paris 2024 Olympics are quickly approaching and you are guaranteed to see tons of familiar faces (think: Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles). Other faces will be new — some appearing so fresh that you may wonder just how old athletes have to be to compete at the Olympic Games. The answer, as it turns out, isn’t cut and dried.

According to the International Olympic Committee’s official rules, there is no single age limit for the Olympics. However, each sport’s international regulatory body governs the rules of their respective sports, including age eligibility. Some federations allow very young athletes to participate in the Olympics, while others have higher age minimums. To help you better understand the Olympics age requirements, we broke it down by some of the most popular sports below.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Compete in the Olympics?

The Olympics age requirements can run the gamut between summer and winter sports.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Compete in Summer Olympic Events?

  • There are a handful of events, including swimming, in which athletes of any age can compete, according to World Aquatics. Some sports that are newer to the Olympic stage, including surfing and skateboarding, also have no minimum age requirement.
  • Diving, on the other hand, has a minimum age requirement of 14 years old.
  • Gymnastics, a crowd-favorite event, requires artistic gymnasts to be at least 16 years old, as decided by the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG).
  • Breaking requires all B-girls and B-boys to have been born before December 31, 2008 (so, depending on the month the participant was born in, they can be as young as 15 or 16 while competing).
  • Equestrian and boxing have some of the older requirements. Competitors must be at least 18 years of age.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Compete in Winter Olympic Events?

  • In terms of the winter Olympics, as with summer events, some sports, such as curling, don’t appear have an official age minimum.
  • Bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, luge, snowboarding, and several other winter sports all require athletes to be 15 or older in order to compete on the senior level at international competitions. Figure skating also requires senior competitors to have turned 15 by July 1, prior to the start of the season.
  • Alpine skiers must be 17 or older.
  • Biathlon competitors must turn 22 in the same year as the Games.

— Additional reporting by Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones is the senior health editor at POPSUGAR. Her areas of expertise include women’s health, mental health, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, diversity in wellness, and chronic conditions. Prior to joining POPSUGAR, she was the senior editor at Health magazine. Her other bylines can be found at Women’s Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, and more.

Amanda Prahl is a freelance writer, playwright/lyricist, dramaturg, teacher, and copywriter/editor.


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