What Are Popular Sports in Russia?

The most popular sports in Russia are ice hockey, ice skating, gymnastics, soccer and chess. Russians consider chess a competitive sport, and the International Olympic Committee recognizes it as one. the Authorities in the former Soviet Union popularized many of these sports through mass training programs.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, much of the funding for sports training programs disappeared. However, the freedom to move, train and compete internationally, as well as obtain funding from corporate sponsors and other private sources, has kept Russian athletes highly competitive.

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Russia; the men’s national team dominated the sport internationally for decades under the Soviet Union. Not much has changed. Russian hockey teams and players are traditionally some of the best in the world.

Gymnastics, both men’s and women’s, has been a staple of Russian athletics for a very long time. The sport remains so strong that Russians have never failed to medal in a World or Olympic competition, as of 2015. Figure skating is another legacy sport, with Russian or Soviet couples winning a gold medal in every Olympics since 1964.

Soccer is developing steadily in popularity, which is why Russia is the venue for the 2016 World Cup. Chess is almost synonymous with Russia, in part because of the intense strategic and competitive value Russians place on it.