IOC Approves Lacrosse for 2028 Summer Olympics

Lacrosse is in the Olympics.

The moment World Lacrosse has worked toward for nearly two decades came at 3:41 a.m. Eastern time Monday when the IOC Session in Mumbai ratified a proposal to add five sports to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Baseball/softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash were a package deal recommended by the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee and accepted by the IOC Executive Board last week.

The approving vote by the IOC Session was the final hurdle.

LA28 will mark the third Olympic appearance for lacrosse, which is now played in nearly 100 countries around the world. It was contested as a medal sport in 1904 (St. Louis) and 1908 (London).

Lacrosse was later featured as a demonstration sport in three Olympics: Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932 and London 1948.

“Today is a remarkable moment in the history of both lacrosse and the Olympic Games,” World Lacrosse CEO Jim Scherr said. “The inclusion of lacrosse in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles is a testament to our sport's enduring legacy, worldwide popularity and unique ability to bring people together. It also signifies the culmination of an extraordinary journey to return North America’s first game to the Olympics, a journey made possible by the unwavering passion of our lacrosse community.”

The 2028 Games will feature men’s and women’s sixes — a fast-paced, high-scoring hybrid of box and field lacrosse with smaller rosters, shorter games and more relatable rules. World Lacrosse created the discipline with the Olympics in mind, but it has also served as a catalyst of the sport’s growth worldwide.

World Lacrosse membership has added 11 new members this year alone. Ninety countries now have organized lacrosse.

Olympic recognition will result in lacrosse investment not only here in the United States — where USA Lacrosse has operated as the sport’s governing body since 1998 — but also in nations whose teams are funded by their governments.

“In some ways, it feels like we’ve reached the finish line with so many people working towards this goal for so many years,” USA Lacrosse CEO Marc Riccio said. “In reality, this is the beginning of a bright new future. The Olympics gives our sport the platform and visibility to achieve unprecedented growth. We can’t wait to get started on the next chapter in the sport’s history.”

World Lacrosse has built its case for a return to the Olympics over the last 15 years, starting with the 2008 merger of the men’s and women’s international federations.

The IOC granted provisional recognition to World Lacrosse in 2018, unlocking funding for development and giving the international federation three years to conform with the Olympic Charter in the areas of governance, anti-doping and competition integrity.

World Lacrosse cleared every obstacle and received full recognition by the IOC in 2021.

The following year, the sport was shortlisted for inclusion in LA28 and went through a comprehensive evaluation and proposal process, leading to Monday’s final decision.

“There is no greater designation than to be recognized as an Olympic sport,” World Lacrosse president Sue Redfern said. “Now is our time to shine and show the world how lacrosse contributes to a better tomorrow.”

Redfern was in Mumbai for the IOC Session and along with leaders from the international federations of the other four approved sports was acknowledged and congratulated by IOC president Thomas Bach after the vote.

Olympic policy gives each host city an option of proposing additions to the 28 sports on the standard program. In June 2022, LA28 invited nine international federations to participate in its vision of a “boldly reimagined sport lineup” that “reflects the diversity, optimism and creativity of Los Angeles.”

Lacrosse fit the bill. In proposing the five sports to the assembled IOC leaders Monday, LA28 chief operating officer John Harper acknowledged the Native American origins of lacrosse and said the sport would add “the narrative of heritage and unity” to the 2028 Games.

“This momentous occasion is a testament to the unwavering dedication and persistence of the global lacrosse community,” said Joe Tsai, co-founder and chairman of the multi-national tech company Alibaba Group and a staunch lacrosse supporter going back to his days as a player at Yale. “We've shown LA28 and the IOC that lacrosse is an electrifying sport with a rich heritage, diverse participation and immense global appeal. The inclusion of lacrosse in the Olympic Games marks a pivotal moment for the sport’s growth.”

Earlier this year, USA Lacrosse gained official recognition from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The milestone came between consecutive world championships won by U.S. National Teams on home soil.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Charlotte North, an attacker on the gold medal-winning 2023 U.S. Women’s National team and forward on the 2023 U.S. Women’s Box Training Team. “It’s such an exciting sport that is growing so fast. The numbers show it. The product shows it. It’s exactly what this sport deserves.”

Premier Lacrosse League co-founder Paul Rabil played in three world championships as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, winning MVP honors in 2010.

“As an athlete, this is the dream. And today, the next generation lacrosse player picking up a stick for the first time can dream big,” Rabil said. “Today's news further cements lacrosse as the next great global game.”


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