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Cricket, flag football, lacrosse and squash are coming to the 2028 LA Olympics

Australia's Josh Inglis plays a shot during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Lucknow, India, on Monday. The sport is coming to the 2028 Olympics.
Tauseef Mustafa
AFP via Getty Images
Australia's Josh Inglis plays a shot during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Lucknow, India, on Monday. The sport is coming to the 2028 Olympics.

Flag football and squash will be played at the Olympics for the first time ever in 2028.

They are among the five sports added to the schedule for the Summer Games in Los Angeles, the International Olympic Committee announced on Monday.

Cricket, lacrosse and baseball-softball are the other sports being added to the event, in hopes of attracting new viewers.

The selection of the five additional sports is "in line with the American sports culture and will showcase iconic American sports to the world, while bringing international sports to the United States. These sports will make the Olympic Games LA28 unique," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

Cricket — a sport massively popular in India, a country of 1.4 billion — is being played in the Olympics for the first time since 1900. The version being played in 2028 is called T20, a shorter, three-hour variation. Cricket fans were overjoyed.

"This marks the dawn of a new era for cricket as it will be a golden opportunity to foster inclusivity and showcase new talent from emerging cricketing nations. A start of something truly special," wrote retired cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, who is regarded as one of the sport's greatest players.

Lacrosse will also be making an appearance after a long gap. The sport was contested in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and played as a demonstration sport most recently in 1948. The version being played in LA is called sixes, a fast-paced version of lacrosse developed in 2018. The IOC noted the Indigenous North American roots of the sport.

Flag football, a non-contact version of American football, joins the list after a campaign by the NFL for its addition. More children in the U.S. between ages 6 and 12 play flag football than tackle football, according to the IOC.

Squash, which is played by 20 million players in 180 countries, according to its supporters, is being played for the first time at the 2028 Olympics. It comes after previous efforts failed to secure a spot.

Former world champion squash player Jonathon Power told NPR in 2013 that squash has a fanatical following of lifetime fans. And its possible use of glass walls for gameplay can lead to venues being set up in interesting locations: "They put some of the tournaments at the foot of the pyramids or in Grand Central Station. They can basically put this four-wall glass court in some really spectacular settings," he said.

Baseball and softball are not new to the Olympics, having been played on and off, most recently at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. But they are not slated to be part of the upcoming Paris Games in 2024.

The IOC also said on Monday that modern pentathlon and weightlifting will remain in the Olympics after they weren't initially included in plans. Modern pentathlon replaced its horse riding event with obstacle racing in an effort to cut costs. Weightlifting had come under scrutiny following a doping scandal, and the IOC said it will be closely monitoring anti-doping efforts in Paris next year.

Twenty-eight sports categories for the LA Olympics were announced in early 2022, including skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.
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