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The Tug of War sport featured in the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920. In 1920 the IOC took a decision to reduce the number of participants of the Olympic Games and for that reason deleted a number of team sport from the programme, including Tug of War. The discontinuation of the Tug of War as an Olympic discipline fortunately did not put an end to the Tug of War sport. All over the world Tug of War remained a sports activity. Within the Athletic Associations, Tug of War was still an athletic discipline and on sport festivals Tug of War was a popular inter-village competition. Within National Athletic Associations the Tug of War discipline, being a non-Olympic discipline, did not have the first priority. The Tug of War teams therefore felt the need to establish a separate and independent organisation for the Tug of War sport. The eldest national association in Tug of War is the Svenska Dragkamp Förbundet, the Swedish Tug of War Association, founded in 1933. The example of Sweden was followed by other countries; in 1958 by the Tug of War Association and one year later, in 1959, by the Netherlands Tug of War Association.

After Tug of War was no longer on the programme of the Olympic Games, the opportunity to participate in international competitions had disappeared. With the foundation of National Tug of War Associations, the need for international competition developed simultaneously. The initiative to form an international federation was taken in 1960 by George Hutton of the Tug of War Association. In co-operation with representatives from the Swedish Association, the idea was brought into reality.

The first international competition of the new federation was staged at the Baltic Games in 1964 (Malmö, Sweden). The Tug of War International Federation, TWIF, participated with four countries; Great Britain, Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark. After the international competition in the Baltic Games, TWIF organised in 1965 its first European Championship in Crystal Palace, London. From that year on, with regular intervals, European Championships were staged until 1975, when countries from outside Europe affiliated to TWIF, resulting in the first World Championship in the Netherlands. The photo above is of the England team that won the European 720 kilos title at the 1965 European Championships - represented by Wood Treatment Bosley from Cheshire. Since then, International championships have grown in terms of the numbers of teams participating, and the expansion of the sport to include womens teams, under 23 teams, under 18 teams and mixed gender teams affording participants of all ages and genders the opportunity of participating on the international stage.

England has hosted the European Championships on many occasions, the most recent being in 1993, 2007, and 2011 all of which were staged in Minehead, Somerset. The 2015 European Championships took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland.