Flag football and squash will make their Olympic debut in 2028, among five new sports added to the schedule for the Los Angeles Summer Games, as revealed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday. Alongside these additions, cricket, lacrosse, and baseball-softball will also join the roster, aimed at diversifying the viewer base.
In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach highlighted the selection of these additional sports as being in harmony with American sports culture and their potential to introduce iconic American sports to a global audience, while also bringing international sports to the United States, thereby making the Olympic Games LA28 distinctive.
Cricket, a sport of massive popularity in India, a country with a population of 1.4 billion, will return to the Olympics for the first time since 1900, featuring the shorter T20 format, a three-hour variation that has thrilled cricket enthusiasts. Sachin Tendulkar, a renowned cricketing figure, expressed his excitement, saying, “This marks the dawn of a new era for cricket as it will be a golden opportunity to foster inclusivity and showcase new talent from emerging cricketing nations.”
Lacrosse will make its Olympic return, having been previously contested in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and more recently as a demonstration sport in 1948. In LA, the version being played is called sixes, a fast-paced variant of lacrosse introduced in 2018. The IOC acknowledged the Indigenous North American origins of the sport.
Flag football, a non-contact iteration of American football, secured a place in the Olympics following a campaign by the NFL advocating for its inclusion. Notably, more children aged 6 to 12 in the U.S. participate in flag football compared to tackle football.
Squash, played by 20 million enthusiasts across 180 countries, will debut at the 2028 Olympics after previous attempts to secure a spot fell short. Former world champion squash player Jonathon Power emphasized the sport’s passionate following and its potential for unique venues due to the use of glass walls in gameplay. He stated, “They put some of the tournaments at the foot of the pyramids or in Grand Central Station. They can basically put this four-wall glass court in some really spectacular settings.”
While baseball and softball have been part of previous Olympics, including the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, they are not slated to feature in the upcoming Paris Games in 2024.
Additionally, the IOC announced that modern pentathlon and **weightlifting** will continue to be part of the Olympics despite not being initially included in plans. Modern pentathlon made changes by replacing its horse riding event with obstacle racing to reduce costs. Weightlifting had faced scrutiny following a doping scandal, prompting the IOC to closely monitor anti-doping efforts in Paris next year.
In early 2022, 28 sports categories were announced for the LA Olympics, including skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing, reflecting the ongoing efforts to keep the Olympic program dynamic and appealing to a diverse global audience.