MUMBAI, India (AP): Cricket is an Olympic sport again. Flag football gets in for the first time.
Five sports were finally added to the 2028 Los Angeles Games by the International Olympic Committee on Monday with baseball-softball, lacrosse and squash also confirmed for the programme.
The slate of sports cleared a final hurdle from the Olympic body’s full membership after being proposed by Los Angeles officials one week ago and recommended by the IOC executive board on Friday.
All five were voted in as a single package with two "no” votes from about 90 IOC members in the room in Mumbai, India.
The decision to elevate cricket to Olympic status for the first time since 1900 was made in one of the hotpots of the sport where the IOC is meeting while India hosts the sport's World Cup.
Adding cricket to the Olympic program is expected to raise the value of India’s broadcasting rights for the IOC by more than US$100 million. The Olympic tournaments for men and women should each have six teams playing the shortened and dynamic Twenty20 format.
Flag football and baseball-softball could put NFL and MLB players on the Olympic stage in five years’ time.
Football in its full-contact form was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Olympics when Los Angeles first hosted the Summer Games.
"We want LA 2028 to have the same springboard effect for our five sports,” organizing committee chairman Casey Wasserman told IOC members. "In LA we are dreamers and doers”
Lacrosse was hailed as the first game played on the American continent by its native people. The sport has been played twice at the Olympics, though not since 1908. In LA, lacrosse will be played in a six-a-side format.
Squash will make its debut after several previous applications to get Olympic status failed.
There was no space for breakdance, which will not return after making its Olympic debut in Paris next year.
The importance of team sports in American culture and building stronger bonds to professional leagues and tours was stressed to IOC members before they voted.
Two members from Africa, Tidjane Thiam of Ivory Coast and William Blick of Uganda, expressed concern about how the fact that the sports added Monday are not played much on the continent.
They were told by LA official Niccolo Campriani that flag football is "the future and the tip of the spear for American football’s international growth.”
"NFL’s commitment on this journey is total, not a one-and-done,” said Campriani, sports director of the 2028 organizing committee and a former IOC staffer.
On the issue of immigration to the US, Los Angeles officials were asked to give assurances that athletes of all passports and nationalities would be allowed in for the Summer Games.
"That is our commitment,” Wasserman said, citing talks with state and federal authorities. "We are proud of our ability to make sure that our country is accessible to every athlete on earth."
- AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games