Olympic organizers have invited nine sports to present a case for inclusion at the Los Angeles 2028 Games. While most of the sports on the list were known-contenders that have been stumping hard for a place in the Olympics, there was at least one big surprise: Motorsport.
- Flag Football
Motorsport, one of the most-watched sports in the United States, has not long been on the radar of the world’s biggest sporting event, at least publicly. While the International Automobile Federation (FIA) has not confirmed what discipline they will present, it is expected to be karting.
Motorsports has made a previous appearance at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900. There is some disagreement as to whether the event was officially part of the Olympic program, but medals were awarded. In the early days, when the Olympic Games were often attached to World’s Fair events, there was sometimes overlapping events, and the IOC has never officially declared which are “Olympic” and which are not.
The names of the drivers in most of those events aren’t known, as medals were actually awarded to manufacturers, not racers. All of the medals were won by French manufacturers. Most of the brands are gone too, with Peugeot and Renault being the brands that still exist today.
Inside the Games reports that there is a six-point criteria list that presentations are expected to address, including supporting environmental stability, upholding integrity and fairness, and both interest in the US and globally.
The LA 2028 Games also have a cap of 10,500 athletes, which will be the fewest since Atlanta in 1996. That tends to favor individual sports over team sports.
The IOC has confirmed that 28 sports will be present in Los Angeles 2028, with the opportunity for the embattled federations of boxing, weightlifting, and modern pentathlon to join them if governance issues are worked out.
Other strong contenders with Olympic histories include:
- T20 cricket, which is launching a major professional league in the US in 2023 and was last contested at the 1900 Games;
- baseball and softball, which appeared at the 2008 and 2020 Olympics but was absent in 2012, 2016, and will be absent in Paris 2024;
- Karate, which made its debut in Tokyo 2020 but won’t be in Paris 2024;
- Break dancing, which will debut in Paris after a successful run at the Youth Olympic Games; and
- Lacrosse, which was on the Olympic program in St. Louis 1904 and London 1908 and was a demonstration sport at three other Olympic Games.
The other three proposed sports would be debutants in 2028:
- 5-on-5 Flag football, which appeared at its first international multi-sport event at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, and was an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904 and 1932;
There is no hard cap on the number of events that can be included in the Olympic Games, aside from those of participant limits and financial/environmental sustainability policies.
The announcement of these nine sports seems to indicate the end-of-the-road for a handful of other sports that were hoping for Olympic inclusion. That includes ultimate flying disc (ultimate frisbee), mixed martial arts, pickleball, and ‘ninja warrior.’ Many of these sports presented versions with smaller rosters in hopes of meeting the IOC’s new policies on sustainability, including a new four-on-four version of ultimate.