Outside of the 28 core sports included in every Olympics, each upcoming Games has the opportunity to approve additional sports for inclusion based on local appeal, per an IOC policy enacted in 2020.
In Tokyo, those disciplines were skateboarding, surfing, karate, sport climbing, 3×3 basketball and freestyle BMX, and softball also made its return to the Games after 13 years. At Paris 2024, the additional sports will be breaking (competitive breakdancing), sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing.
So far, four sports have emerged as contenders of the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, the United States’ first Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and first Summer Games since Atlanta 1996.
Softball and baseball could return, especially with professional baseball’s popularity in the United States. The World Baseball and Softball Confederation plans to pursue inclusion for both sports, it reaffirmed ahead of the Tokyo Games.
The International Cricket Council announced in August that it plans to pursue cricket as an additional sport for either 2028 or Brisbane 2032. That included establishing a worlding group with representatives from various national governing bodies. Cricket, one of the most popular sports in the world, has been rapidly growing its presence in the U.S. in recent years. Among recent efforts is Major League Cricket, a new U.S.-based professional that’s garnered investments from multiple major investors, including the Indian Premier League’s Kolkata Knight Riders — which are co-owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan — and numerous tech executives.
Cricket will be included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Finally, the National Football League is involved in an effort to get a five-on-five version of flag football into the Olympics, which is being spearheaded by the International Federation of American Football. The non-contact version of American football is included in the program from the 2022 World Games, which are also in Birmingham.
It would also make a lot of sense for skateboarding and surfing to stick around for 2028, given their popularity in Southern California, but no formal announcements have been made yet.
The IOC wants to keep the Summer Games’ athlete field to around 10,500, so any new sports that entail a large number of athletes could have a harder time getting into the Games (meaning individual sports could have an advantage). Cricket teams have at least 15 players, and similarly, IFAF flag football rosters historically consist of a maximum of 15 players.
The IOC is expected to finalize the LA 2028 sport program at its session in Beijing in February 2022.