What Is the World’s Most Dangerous Sport?

Base jumping in Greece

Basejumper in Greece

Working out what is the world’s most dangerous sport is something that, on the face of it, is easy to do. It must be one of the world’s most extreme sports such as bungee jumping, parachuting or white-water rafting, surely? Our research, however, has unearthed a few surprises and you may be shocked by some of our findings.

There are a whole host of statistics available purporting to show what is the world’s most dangerous sport. In our research, we’ve defined our question as meaning “Participating in which sport has the greatest risk of death?” and have used research undertaken by Bandolier - an independent journal about evidence-based healthcare written by Oxford University scientists. Here are the 5 most deadly sports in the world.

1. Base Jumping

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 43.17
  • Odds of dying: 1 in 2,317

Base jumping is undoubtedly the world’s most dangerous sport. The statistics show that there is a far bigger chance of dying base jumping than doing any other activity. Jumping off tall buildings, structures or natural features, base jumpers deploy a parachute to ensure they land safely.

Unlike parachuting in its various forms though, there is not enough time to deploy a reserve chute if the first does not work. Base jumping is also largely illegal across the world which means that it is often practiced illicitly without official safety teams and medics on-hand.

2. Swimming

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 1.77
  • Odds of dying: 1 in 56,587

Swimming being the world’s most second dangerous sport may be surprise if you think of swimming only as that which occurs at the highest level in Olympic sized indoor pools. Swimming though is a much bigger sport and can include open water swimming and endurance swimming, which we suspect present a higher risk of danger and death.

3. Cycling

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 1.08
  • Odds of dying: 1 in 92,325

Cycling is a popular sport, both indoor and outdoor. It is the outdoor variety though that is the most popular simply because it is so accessible with competitors only needing a bike. There are cycling clubs and association in towns and cities across many countries in the world and competitions at amateur and professional levels. Though BMX competitions and mountain biking have a degree of popularity, it is road racing that is the most popular.

Because all but the top races have to share the roads with general traffic, cycling can be a risky activity at times. This is because you are 17 times more likely to be killed on a bike than in a car.

4. Running

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 1.03
  • Odds of dying: 1 in 97,455

Running is perhaps the world’s most accessible sport requiring no equipment save for a pair of running shoes. Like cycling, road running is always at risk from general car traffic but we suspect there is another reason that running makes the top 5 most dangerous sports.

Running is an activity that many people take up in middle age and later life and there are, sadly, numerous reported incidences of people suffering heart attacks whilst running. However, this is still statistically very rare and the benefits of running far outweigh any danger.

5. Skydiving

  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 0.99
  • Odds of dying: 1 in 101,083

There won’t be too much surprise to see skydiving listed as being one of the world’s most dangerous sports. Jumping out of a plane at several thousand feet relying on a parachute is always going to dangerous.

Deaths can come from faulty equipment or user error but there are also deaths due to medical incidences, such as heart attacks or strokes. However, statistically it is still a relatively safe sport and one that many people continue to enjoy across the globe.