The International Olympic Committee Executive Board has approved the addition of three sports as part of the Olympic program for the Los Angeles 2028 Games.
Skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing made their debut at the Tokyo Olympics in summer 2021, where they were considered “added sports.” They were again added to the Paris 2024 program with more athletes. And they again have been renewed for Los Angeles 2028, pushing them closer to permanent sport status.
“The proposed inclusion of these youth-focused sports is based on the significant contribution to the overall success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, their commitment to innovation and the partnership expressed by LA28, and also recognizing the deep roots each of these three sports have in L.A. and in California,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.
“At the same time, the IOC and the L.A. organizing committee renewed their joint commitment to prioritize reducing the costs and complexity of the Games.”
The Olympics have an overall athlete quota of 10,500 for both the Paris and Los Angeles Olympic Games. At Tokyo 2020, surfing and sport climbing each had 40 athletes, while skateboarding had 80. At Paris 2024, surfing will grow to 44 athletes, climbing will grow to 68 athletes, and skateboarding will grow to 88 athletes.
Among the ways that the IOC might offset these numbers: three stalwarts of the Olympic schedule that are in the midst of turmoil will have to ‘earn’ their way back into the Los Angeles Games.
Boxing (252 athletes for Paris 2024), Weightlifting (120 athletes for Paris 2024), and modern pentathlon (72 athletes for Paris 2024) have not been included in the initial schedule.
“For boxing, weightlifting, and modern pentathlon, there will be a pathway for inclusion in this initial sports program,” Bach said. “These three sports may potentially be included in the LA28 initial sports program by the IOC Session in 2023 if by then the respective international federation will demonstrate to the satisfaction of the IOC Executive Board that they have addressed the following areas.
“First, AIBA [boxing]. AIBA must demonstrate that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.
“Second, IWF [weightlifting]. IWF and its future leadership must demonstrate its transition towards compliance and effective change of culture. Furthermore, they must successfully address the historical incidence of doping in the sport and ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping program.
“Third, and this is different, very much different from weightlifting and boxing. Third is UIPM [modern pentathlon]. UIPM must finalize its proposal for the replacement of horse riding and for the overall competition format. They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas of safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public.”
Sport leaders in Modern pentathlon, which includes the sports of fencing, swimming, equestrian (horse riding), and running combined with laser shooting, are push to replace the equestrian portion of the event after an incident where a German coach was videoed punching an uncooperative horse, ridden by the gold medal favorite, at the Tokyo 2020 Games. They have received pushback from athletes who believe that replacing the equestrian portion would undermine the sport, and they have taken that movement to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Bach’s commentary indicates that the IOC is ready to replace the equestrian section, which would significantly reduce the cost of the event and stabling horses.
The Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee has the opportunity to request the addition of other sports to the schedule in mid-2023, which is earlier than the originally-proposed late 2024.
Other sports that were part of Tokyo 2020 and are not included in the initial LA28 program include baseball and softball. The organizing committee is expected to request the addition of those sports, given their importance in the United States.
The lead contenders for addition to the LA 2028 schedule are cricket and a five-on-five version of flag football, reminiscent of the three-on-three basketball tournament added in Tokyo, but there are other contenders too. Ultimate flying disk, break dancing (which has proven popular on the Youth Olympic circuit), mixed martial arts, karate, and pickleball all are making pushes for inclusion, though it is unlikely that they can all be accepted and meet the IOC’s goals of 10,500 athletes.