Cricket Makes a Triumphant Return to the Olympics, Flag Football Joins for the First Time
The International Olympic Committee has announced the addition of five new sports to the program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. In a meeting held in Mumbai, India, the full membership of the IOC approved the inclusion of baseball-softball, lacrosse, squash, and flag football, along with the historic return of cricket to the Olympic stage.
This decision marks a significant milestone for these sports, which were proposed by Los Angeles officials and recommended by the IOC executive board. The five sports were voted in as a package, with only two “no” votes out of approximately 90 IOC members present.
Casey Wasserman, the chairman of the Los Angeles organizing committee, expressed his excitement about the opportunity these sports will bring to the Games. “In L.A., we are known for our ambitious dreams and our ability to turn them into reality,” Wasserman stated.
Cricket’s elevation to Olympic status for the first time since 1900 was an especially momentous decision, made in the presence of cricket enthusiasts as India hosts the sport’s World Cup. This move is also expected to enhance the value of India’s broadcasting rights for the IOC by over $100 million. The Olympic cricket tournaments will feature six teams in each category, playing the dynamic Twenty20 format.
The inclusion of flag football and baseball-softball opens up the possibility of NFL and MLB players competing on the Olympic stage in five years’ time. In its full-contact form, football was showcased as a demonstration sport during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, expressed the league’s commitment to promoting flag football and its prospects in the Olympic movement. The Atlanta Falcons have also played a significant role in fostering flag football at the grassroots level, providing grants to numerous schools to cover various expenses.
Lacrosse, recognized as the first game played on the American continent by its native people, will make a return to the Olympics after over a century since its last appearance in 1908. The sport will be played in a six-a-side format in L.A.
Squash, despite multiple unsuccessful attempts in the past, will finally make its Olympic debut. Unfortunately, breakdance, which debuted at the Paris Olympics next year, did not secure a spot in the 2028 Games.
Before the final vote, IOC members were reminded of the importance of team sports in American culture and their role in creating stronger bonds with professional leagues and tours. While concerns were raised regarding the lack of popularity for the newly added sports in Africa, it was emphasized that flag football would serve as a driving force for the international growth of American football.
Ensuring inclusivity was another crucial aspect of the discussion. Los Angeles officials reassured IOC members that athletes from all countries and backgrounds would be allowed to participate in the Summer Games, regardless of immigration policies.
In an opening speech that pushed the limits of political neutrality, Wasserman addressed the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war. He expressed solidarity with both Ukraine and Israel, emphasizing the need to understand and respect each other’s differences. Wasserman reiterated Los Angeles’ commitment to welcoming and celebrating all athletes and people in the world when the Games commence in 2028.
Although the political content of Wasserman’s speech received criticism from some IOC members, others, such as Guy Drut, a French IOC member and former Olympian, supported his stance, acknowledging the tragic loss of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
In a separate vote, weightlifting and modern pentathlon retained their spots in the Olympic program. Weightlifting had faced scrutiny due to doping scandals, while modern pentathlon introduced obstacle course racing to replace traditional horse jumping.
Boxing has also been confirmed for the Los Angeles Games, although the sport currently lacks a recognized governing body by the IOC.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Olivia Wilson is a trendsetter in the world of digital culture. With an eagle eye for emerging trends and viral phenomena, she keeps readers up-to-date with the latest online sensations, memes, and pop culture trends. Olivia’s passion for staying ahead of the curve is infectious.