LA28 Olympic Organizers Name 5 New Sports for 2028 Olympic Games

Los Angeles Olympic organizers have named five provisional spots that it plans to add for the 2028 Games. Baseball/softball, American flag football, cricket, lacrosse, and squash were chosen by organizers, with the IOC having the final vote at its session in Mumbai on October 16.

The vote by the IOC is expected to be a rubber stamp, with organizers working closely with the Olympic organization on selecting the finalists.

Among a shortlist of nine sports vying to be added to the schedule, breaking, kickboxing, motor sport, and karate were excluded.

Every four years, Olympic hosts are given the opportunity to add provisional sports to the core 28 sports that are included in every Olympic Games. The system is different than the “demonstration” sports in years past in that they’re given full event status, funding, and awards, but are not guaranteed continued inclusion.

Surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing were included in Tokyo and were kept on the schedule by the IOC going forward. Breaking, or break-dancing, is being included in the Paris 2024 Olympic schedule but was not picked up by LA28 organizers, in spite of checking an important box of appealing to the youth demographic.

LA28 chairman Casey Wasserman said they favored sports that could be played at existing venues in Southern California, which has been one of the core tenets of organizers’ planning of the Games.

He has also emphasized the importance of choosing sports that are “played in backyards, schoolyards, community centers”.

Sport-By-Sport Breakdown

Lacrosse

A sport with North American roots, lacrosse was featured at the 1904 and 1908 Olympic Games and as a demonstration sport at the 1928, 1932, and 1948 Olympic Games.

Pros:

  • This is easily the fastest growing team sport in the United States at the high school and college level, and the audience in the host nation is going to be big.

Cons:

  • The sport is dominated by the US and Canada. Out of 14 all-time lacrosse men’s World Championships since 1967, the US has won 11 and Canada has won the other 3. The last time a non-American team played in the championship game was in 1994, when the US beat Australia 21-7. The final 4 in 2023 featured the US, Australia, Canada, and Haudenosaunee, a team representing the Iroquois nation. There are pockets of success elsewhere in the world (England, Israel, Japan), but by-and-large, Olympic growth areas like Africa and South America are not competitive.
  • Big roster sizes – lacrosse’s standard international roster size is 23, which runs counter to the IOC’s recent goals of focusing on sports with smaller rosters, like Rugby 7s and 3-v-3 basketball.
  • Lacrosse is a relatively-expensive sport to play, limiting its global growth potential.

Flag Football

The less-contact version of American football, flag football is growing in popularity around the world – especially among women. While you might think this was an American-dominated sport, half of the men’s World Championships since 2002 have been won by other nations (including three by Austria), and American women have only won 2 out of the 10 World Championships ever offered. Wasserman himself once owned an arena football league team, so this choice is near-and-dear to his heart.

Pros:

  • NBC, the American host broadcaster, loves football. The inclusion of flag football also gives the IOC a juggernaut global partner in the NFL, which is pushing to grow the sport of football at all levels around the world.
  • So-Fi Stadium, which will host the opening ceremony, is an NFL stadium.

Cons:

  • While football is growing in popularity around the world, there were no women’s African nations represented at the most recent World Championships in 2021. The sport is starting to catch fire in Asia, but those teams were still largely outmatched by American and European counterparts.

Baseball and Softball

Baseball appeared as a full sport at each Olympic Games from 1992 through 2008 and softball from 1996 through 2008, but both were dropped in 2012. Japan, a baseball-loving nation, brought it back in 2020, but Paris organizers didn’t pick it up.

Pros:

  • This event will sell out instantly. If they can hold the games at Dodgers Stadium, it will be one of the more iconic venues in Olympic history. Organizationally, it’s easy – just send the Dodgers on a two week road trip and continue operations more-or-less as normal.
  • Merchandise sales will be huge.
  • It fits the bill of ‘backyard games’.
  • More nations have become competitive in these sports since they were dropped from the permanent Olympic rotation, though both still have limited reach in Africa and South America.

Cons:

  • Major League Baseball players, the best in the world, have not been included in the Olympics, limiting the starpower of a sport that should be full of it. Perhaps the MLB will see the value of changing that stance after a successful World Baseball Classic earlier this year that featured plenty of major leaguers.
  • Big rosters mean lots of athletes traveling. Both tournaments had only 6 teams in 2020, which kept numbers down, but also really limited a lot of the excitement.

Cricket

A cashcow that America and the IOC can’t ignore anymore, cricket is estimated to be the world’s second-most popular sport (behind soccer) with around 2.5 billion fans globally. It’s an almost non-existent marketplace in the US, but that is changing rapidly thanks in part to first-and-second generation Americans and the launching of a well-funded professional cricket league.

The IOC recommended a six-team T20 event for both men and women. T20 cricket (also known as Twenty20) is the shortened form of the game, lasting about two-and-a-half hours – as compared to the popular international Test cricket format which are scheduled across five consecutive days.

Pros:

  • A lot of powerful business people, especially those of South Asian descent, are dumping money into the US pro league. This addition should accelerate that process.
  • It opens up the massive Indian market of more than a billion people, which has so far been a tough nut for the IOC to crack.

Cons:

  • It won’t have a big domestic appeal, yet. But it’s coming.

Squash

One of a number of racquet sports vying for increased international attention with a general rise in interest for the genre, squash is played by about 20 million people globally in more than 185 countries, making it arguably the most-global sport on this list.

Pros:

  • Once considered a ‘rich man’s sport,’ which is arguably still true in some parts of the Northeastern US, squash has done a lot of work to move form the hallowed halls of private clubs into more public spaces, including rec centers and YMCAs. The equipment is relatively cheap, so for countries willing to invest in the public infrastructure (which again, is not that expensive, giving a small footprint relative to a sport like tennis), the growth potential is huge.
  • A small playing surface means limited infrastructure costs.

Cons:

  • Have you ever watched squash on TV? Bought a ticket to a squash event? I have, but I live 2 miles from the US National Squash Center at Drexel University. There is big potential for squash, but with padel, paddle, and pickleball occupying an increasingly crowded racquet space, it’s hard to see where squash is going to make its breakthrough among the younger demographic.

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CasualSwimmer
6 months ago

Couldn’t have chosen a more english-speaking olympic sport than these 5 lol

Troyy
Reply to  CasualSwimmer
6 months ago

Except cricket is most popular in South Asia.

James Richards
Reply to  Troyy
6 months ago

Commonwealth countries aka remnant of British empire.

frug
6 months ago

Los Angeles Olympic organizers have named five provisional spots that it plans to add for the 2028 Games. Baseball/softball, cricket, lacrosse, and squash were chosen by organizers, with the IOC having the final vote at its session in Mumbai on October 16.

Was flag football meant to be include in that list, or were baseball and softball counted as separate sports?

Seth
6 months ago

I wonder if a team of NFL players will sign up for flag football. Would be fun watching Patrick Mahomes play flag football.

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  Seth
6 months ago

The all star game was touch football last year (absolutely no contact). I didn’t watch it, but I assume it was two hand touch rather than flags. Tyreek Hill recently said he would participate if the Olympics added football.

Swimwolff
6 months ago

I am surprised Pickleball isn’t included

phelpsfan
Reply to  Swimwolff
6 months ago

Mentioning pickleball over karate? Ultimate? Kickboxing?

Torchbearer
6 months ago

They are supposedly trying to reign in the size of the Olympics- adding a lot of big team sports seems a bit dumb….If they cap overall numbers, it means sports like swimming, athletics and cycling will lose quota spots.

Troyy
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

I’d be very surprised if lacrosse or flag football are retained for Brisbane and squash is much less popular than it was a few decades ago. The only sure thing in this list is cricket.

Johnny
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

If they really want a popular sport played around the world, then add Pool (Pocket Billiards). Everybody is playing it now worldwide.

Miss M
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

Cricket and Baseball/softball are probably safe, but no way to flag football or lacrosse. There is a big push in Australia for netball, with the biggest issue being it’s a female dominated sport played mainly in commonwealth countries.

Troyy
Reply to  Miss M
6 months ago

I can’t see netball being able to fix their gender problem when World Netball still doesn’t sanction men’s international netball and have even stated they intend to keep international netball female only.

Justanopinion
Reply to  Miss M
6 months ago

I’m not so sure about Softball. It’s basically a 1 country sport. It was dropped because of lack of true competitiveness. The US was so utterly dominant at it that other countries lost interest, and was then dropped.
Baseball now should have a thriving chance. It’s problem ( if we are being 100% honest) is because in years past MLB didn’t support it, not because it conflicted with season (hockey blows that excuse out the window), but because MLB knew full well it had a massive PED problem and if it allowed players to go, they then were open to real drug testing (which a lot wouldn’t pass). So it wasn’t worth it for MLB. And without MLB players… Read more »

Goingforaswim
6 months ago

“Hmmmm how can we get more medals for the USA” 🤦

mds
Reply to  Goingforaswim
6 months ago

Hmmmmm. Every host country can be blamed self-serving choices.

scott surgner
Reply to  Goingforaswim
6 months ago

lacrosse and squash are universally accepted. The other wannabee sports, especially flag football should not even get a nod less serious consideration.

Sharkspeed
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 months ago

The existence of federations doesn’t mean there are a lot of practitioners, even less active.

I’m european and never saw a game of lacrosse or squash being held on TV, not even a mention on the News. Probably an indicator of how small those sports are around here

Last edited 6 months ago by Sharkspeed
Sharkspeed
Reply to  Goingforaswim
6 months ago

Exactly. All very american sports…

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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