The LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games has announced five sports will be proposed to the sport program with baseball/softball, flag football, cricket, lacrosse and squash up for approval by the International Olympic Committee at its Session meeting in Mumbai this month.
“LA28’s proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it,” said LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman. “They will bring new athletes to the Games, engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games’ presence in digital spaces, further amplifying LA28’s mission to deliver an unparalleled experience.”
Nine sports made their case for inclusion to LA28 and the IOC; baseball/softball (which the IOC sees as one discipline because the sports are under one international federation), breaking, cricket, flag football, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsport and squash.
“We are absolutely thrilled and honored by LA28’s decision to propose lacrosse for inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games,” World Lacrosse said. “We are one huge step closer to a monumental milestone for our sport and international community. … We eagerly await the IOC’s final decision and look forward to the possibility of lacrosse being showcased on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”
“The WBSC is extremely pleased men’s baseball and women’s softball is included in LA28’s list of sports proposed for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028,” said the international federation for baseball and softball. “The inclusion of baseball and softball is a testament to our sports’ global appeal, made possible through ongoing collaboration with our major stakeholders, including the pro leagues, all around the world and we are confident both will be a huge hit with fans in the US and globally.”
“The World Squash Federation (WSF), US Squash and the Professional Squash Association (PSA) welcome the decision by the LA28 Organizing Committee to recommend squash for inclusion in the LA2028 Olympic sports program,” said the WSF. “The decision is a significant and exciting milestone in squash’s history as the sport nears inclusion in the Olympic Games for the first time.”
“We are delighted that LA28 have recommended cricket for inclusion in the Olympics,” International Cricket Council Chair Greg Barclay said. “While this is not the final decision, it is a very significant landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.”
Traditionally the host has proposed which sports it would like to add. Flag football and squash would be Olympic debutants while cricket was held at the 1900 Games and lacrosse twice, in 1904 and 1908. Baseball and softball have been regularly on the Olympic program including from 1992 through 2008, but then was dropped from the program and reinstated in 2020 in Tokyo.
“In building the Olympic sport program, we were willing to challenge the status quo and think differently about what’s possible for the Games in Los Angeles,” said LA28 Chief Executive Officer Kathy Carter. “We approached the process holistically and authentically, ensuring that our decisions were grounded in the Games’ commitment to fiscal responsibility. And we’ve landed on a bold and balanced proposal that will energize the Games with culturally relevant competition and boundless possibility.”
One of the complicating factors in developing the LA28 program was that as part of its Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC has mandated a cap of 10,500 athletes for the Summer Olympic Games. Both baseball and softball had 234 athletes in total in Tokyo at the 2020 Games and flag football had 192 athletes at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.
Adding those sports — let alone cricket’s T20 format, the sixes version of lacrosse and squash — would make the IOC and LA28 organizers have to juggle and make some type of adjustment to the athlete cap.
The first 28 sports on the program were announced in late 2021 and included skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. The LA28 initial sports program proposal also included aquatics, archery, badminton, basketball, canoe, cycling, equestrian, fencing, golf, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, skateboarding, soccer, sport climbing, surfing, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling.
Boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon were not on the initial list. Boxing was then confirmed as part of LA28 when the IOC withdrew the International Boxing Association’s recognition as an international federation in June of this year.
There is also a financial aspect at play. Los Angeles was awarded the 2028 Games in September 2017 as part of a dual announcement with Paris given the 2024 Games. As part of the bid arrangement, LA 2028 was to receive at least $2 billion from the IOC and the IOC’s 20 percent share of the projected 2028 Games surplus. But as cricket has gained momentum to being on the LA28 program, one of the IOC’s motivations to have it involved is the potential windfall of TV rights in India; the IOC currently gets a reported $20 million for the 2024 Games but with cricket’s inclusion, those rights could be around $200 million from India for 2028.
While the program would be formally approved by the IOC in Mumbai, there is one sport that still may have its venue changed. News has yet to come on the site for canoe slalom competition, which the International Canoe Federation said earlier this year may be relocated to the Riversport Rapids whitewater center in Oklahoma City. LA28 had proposed the canoe sprint events be held at the Long Beach Marine Stadium after first proposing Lake Perris in Riverside County.
Riversport hosted the 2021 International Canoe Federation Super Cup and when the ICF needed a last-minute replacement host for the 2022 Canoe Sprint Super Cup and the 2022 ICF Stand Up Paddling World Cup to relocate the event out of Russia, the Oklahoma venue hosted on short notice. Riversport will also host the 2026 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.
The 2028 Olympic Summer Games will start July 14 with a dual Opening Ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and SoFi Stadium, with competition going through July 30. Atlanta in 1996 was the last U.S. Summer Games host; Los Angeles will be joining the exclusive group of three-time Summer Games hosts, having been the site in 1932 and 1984.