Tug-of-war has been contested at the Olympics in 1900, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1912, and 1920. Seven teams were entered in 1908 but Germany and Greece did not compete. Sweden and the United States entered a national team, while three metropolitan police teams entered for Great Britain, two from London and one from Liverpool. The pulls were held in the White City Stadium at Shepherd’s Bush, London, the main Olympic Stadium for the 1908 Olympics.
The tug-of-war competition ended up in one of the biggest controversies of the 1908 Olympics. The Liverpool Police team pulled the American team over the line quickly, and the Americans immediately protested, claiming that Liverpool tuggers were wearing illegal shoewear, describing them as “wearing shoes as big as North River ferryboats, with steel-topped heels and steel cleats in the front of the soles, while spikes an inch long stuck out of the soles.” After much back-and-forth in the British press, the protest was eventually disallowed, and the Americans were out of the event.