Cricket has won its battle to be added to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic programme, and will be joined by squash, lacrosse, flag football and baseball/softball in a bumper programme.
The decision of the LA organising committee to pick squash, which has lobbied for decades to make the Games, and lacrosse, which last appeared in 1908, counts as a double surprise.
The five new proposed sports – after intense discussions between LA and the IOC’s Olympic programme commission – are expected to be formally confirmed by LA within hours. They will then be officially ratified at the 141st IOC session in Mumbai, which begins on Sunday.
The Guardian revealed in July that cricket was “very likely” to feature in LA, given the IOC’s desire to tap into India’s huge market, and on Monday first reported the decision ahead of the official announcement. While negotiations have not always been easy between the IOC and LA, it makes financial sense for all sides for it to be included.
Quick GuideHow do I sign up for sport breaking news alerts?ShowDownload the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for ‘The Guardian’.If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.Turn on sport notifications.The numbers tell the story. The current Olympic broadcast rights in India are reportedly worth just £15.6m ($20m) for Paris 2024. But experts have told the Guardian that this figure could rise to £150m now cricket has been added.
Cricket has been played once before at the Olympics, in 1900, when England and France played a single match. The T20 format will be used for men and women. It is highly likely to be retained for the Games in Brisbane, Australia, in 2032.
Greg Barclay, the chair of the International Cricket Council (ICC), cricket’s governing body, said: “We are delighted that LA28 have recommended cricket for inclusion in the Olympics. 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.”
Meanwhile flag football, a five-on-five non-contact sport variant of American football, has also got the nod. That will delight the NFL, which has been pushing for it as an Olympic event to grow interest in their game worldwide.
Lacrosse, another popular sport with young people in the US, is also in. The discipline chosen is said to be the fast-paced, high-scoring “sixes” event which is staged over four eight-minute quarters.
World Lacrosse said it was “thrilled and honoured” by the decision. “We are one huge step closer to a monumental milestone for our sport and international community. Lacrosse is globally played, accessible and equitable, with a unique origin and modern, youthful relevancy. We are on a path of ascendency, and will be a great partner for LA28 and the IOC.”
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The Great Britain team that won the gold medal for cricket in the Paris Olympics of 1900, the only previous time cricket has been included in a Games. Photograph: Topham Picturepoint/Press Association ImagesYet the inclusion of five new sports leaves the International Olympic Committee with a potential problem: how it gets under its quota of 10,500 athletes for each Games. Breaking, which was selected for Paris 2024, has not been chosen for LA. However other sports considered under threat, including boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon, are now considered safe.
It means that, if the Games is to stick to that magic number of 10,500, more traditional sports will have to cut their number of medal events. Baseball (men) and softball (women) were included in the 2020 Tokyo Games, with Japan winning both gold medals, but have not been chosen for Paris 2024.
After the Guardian broke the story on Monday afternoon, the news was confirmed by Casey Wasserman, chairperson of the LA28 organising committee, who said: “LA28’s proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it. They’re relevant, innovative and community-based, played in backyards, schoolyards, community centers, stadiums and parks across the US and the globe.
“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.”