One week. A very short week. For the nine sports vying for a place on the program of the Los Angeles Games in 2028, there are just seven days to go before the IOC Executive Board makes its decision.
Reuters reports, quoting a source close to the matter, that the Olympic body’s decision-making body will decide the matter at its next meeting, scheduled for Friday September 8 in Lausanne. Among the nine sports still in the running, Thomas Bach and his inner circle will choose those most in line with the vision, and above all the dimensions, of the Los Angeles 2028 Games. The shortlist of sports will then be submitted to the next IOC Session for approval. This is due to take place from October 15 to 17, 2023 in Mumbai, India.
As a reminder, nine sports can still dream of experiencing the Los Angeles 2028 Games from the inside, as additional sports: flag soccer, karate, kickboxing, baseball-softball, lacrosse, breaking, squash, motor racing and cricket.
The initial list, whose composition was never officially revealed, included at least half a dozen more, including teqball and sambo. Los Angeles made its first choice. It then passed through the sieve of the Olympic Program Commission, chaired by Austrian Karl Stoss. But the decision rests with the Executive Commission, and the session is only called upon to ratify its choice.
On paper, the list of candidates is a rather motley mix of team sports – baseball/softball, lacrosse, cricket and flag soccer – and individual disciplines – karate, squash, breaking and kickboxing. It also includes a surprise guest, motor racing. Among them, two sports have already experienced the Olympic atmosphere: karate and baseball-softball. Both were present at the Tokyo 2020 Games. A third, breaking, will make its debut next year at the Paris 2024 Games.
How many will there be, on Friday September 8, singing a victory song when the results are announced? It’s hard to say. At the Tokyo Games, where the concept of additional sports was introduced, the program included five: karate, climbing, surfing, skateboarding and baseball/softball. For Paris 2024, the list has been reduced to four (climbing, surfing, skateboarding and breaking). Between the two editions, the IOC changed the rules, stipulating that new entrants must not increase the quota of 10,500 athletes.
With such a constraint, it seems hard to imagine more than one team sport coming out of the hat next Friday during the IOC Executive Board meeting. But which one? Baseball/softball would be a natural choice for a Games in the USA. But perhaps too obvious. Flag soccer has led a very active campaign, arguably the most visible of all the bidders. Its international federation, the IFAF, relied heavily on the influence and firepower of the NFL. Cricket, which is non-existent in the United States, plays on another register: the immensity of its community, the largest in the sporting movement on social networks.
For individual sports, anything is possible. One favorite stands out: breaking. The IOC wanted it for the Paris 2024 Games, after the discipline’s success at the 2018 Youth Games in Buenos Aires. It’s hard to imagine Thomas Bach turning his back on it for the Los Angeles 2028 Games, where, even more than next year in Paris, the program will have to win over young people and bring them back into the Olympic family.