Flag football is set to make its Olympic debut at the Los Angeles Games in 2028, according to organizers who announced on Monday the sport’s inclusion as one of five recommended additions to the program. In addition to flag football, L.A. 2028 officials have requested the addition of cricket, baseball/softball, squash, and lacrosse for the Summer Games, marking the return of the Olympics to the United States after 32 years.
These sports were among the nine finalists vying for inclusion in the core Olympic events in Los Angeles, with breaking (which will be featured in the Paris 2024 Games), karate, kickboxing, and motorsports also considered. Surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing, which debuted at the Tokyo Games, will make a comeback.
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The International Olympic Committee will formally vote on the five recommendations in Mumbai on October 16. Originally scheduled for earlier this year, the vote was unexpectedly delayed as the IOC mentioned “ongoing discussions” with L.A. 2028 organizers.
“We were willing to challenge the status quo and think differently about what’s possible for the Games,” said Kathy Carter, CEO of the L.A. organizing committee, in a statement.
Casey Wasserman, chairperson of LA28, referred to the proposed sports as those that “ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it.” He further added, “They’re relevant, innovative, and community-based, played in backyards, schoolyards, community centers, stadiums, and parks across the U.S. and the globe.”
Flag football is a non-contact, five-on-five version of American football in which players remove a flag from the ball carrier’s belt instead of making tackles.
The NFL has been a strong advocate for adding flag football to the Olympic program as part of its efforts to popularize football globally. Last summer, the league partnered with the International Federation of American Football to push for flag football’s inclusion in the Olympics.
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Cricket last appeared at the Olympics in 1900, with Great Britain and France being the only participants. However, the sport, particularly the Twenty20 format that will be played at the Olympics, has gained widespread popularity worldwide, thanks to the rise of the Indian Premier League in the 21st century. The league’s final in May attracted approximately 32 million concurrent viewers, as reported by Bloomberg.
In T20 cricket, each team has a single inning consisting of a maximum of 20 overs, with each “over” providing the batting team with six scoring opportunities.
Baseball and softball were featured in the Tokyo program but will be absent in 2024 before reappearing in 2028. Lacrosse previously made appearances in the Olympics in 1904 and 1908.
USA Lacrosse CEO Marc Riccio expressed his excitement about Monday’s announcement, describing it as “incredibly exciting news” and stating, “The Olympics are the pinnacle of sport globally, and inclusion would bring unparalleled visibility and investment in the sport worldwide. The LA28 Organizing Committee’s recommendation recognizes its potential significance.”
The 2028 Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 14, 2028, and the Games will run from July 14 to July 30. The Los Angeles Paralympic Games will be held from August 15 to August 27.
(Photo: Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images)
Alex Martin is your guide to the global phenomenon of football. With a focus on international leagues and tournaments, he provides match commentary, player interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories from the world of football.