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Los Angeles 2028: Cricket returns as an Olympic sport after IOC approval

Cricket returns to the Olympics as one of five sports added to the games in the City of Angels, coming in the T20 format with both Men's and Women's gaining approval from the IOC, alongside squash, lacrosse, flag football and baseball/softball.

After a one-off final back in the 1900 version of the Games in Paris, cricket is making a long-awaited return to the festival of sport in Los Angeles in 2028, with the International Olympic Committee giving approval for the five suggested sports by the LA28 Organising Committee to be included in the games program.

The Format

The proposed format of cricket that has been given approval is T20, with both a men's and women's tournament given the green light by the IOC. The short nature of the T20 format lends itself well to the style of the Olympics, where multiple-day Test series would prove logistically challenging and 50-over matches may not come across fast paced enough to captivate new eyes and audiences to the sport. 

With the growing success of The Hundred in the UK, as well as the ever-popular Indian Premier League being a 20-over tournament, it's shown that the shorter format of the game can draw large crowds and help grow the game to audiences who previously may not be as inundated with the sport.

It's been suggested that the Olympic tournament will be contested by six teams chosen by the IOC, however, it's not known what the qualifying criteria will be for said teams or if there is opportunity for more teams to contest for the gold medal.

Cricket

Building on the World Cup

With the addition of cricket to LA28, it's clear that cricket is on the rise within the North American market. The USA is co-hosting the 2024 T20 World Cup alongside the West Indies in what will be the first time an ICC event is being hosted in the USA. Defending champions England will be looking to retain their title but will have to get the better of the rest of the 20 teams competing.

Cricket is a growing sport within the USA, with the inaugural season of Major League Cricket (MLC) being a success in 2023. Introducing cricket in Los Angeles has the potential to kickstart a new generation of American cricketers by giving the sport the platform for new audiences who may not originally be interested in the MLC or T20WC.

What else has been added?

Lacrosse

Lacrosse

Included as an ode to indigenous North American heritage, lacrosse will feature in the Olympics for just the third time, and the first time since its inclusion in the 1908 London Games.

The fast-paced high-intensity game is a popular US college sport and has spread worldwide in recent decades, with four continents being represented within the top 10 in the world rankings. The games will feature both men's and women's tournaments in the 'Sixes' format, and with smaller teams and pitches, it kicks an already breathless sport up a notch.

Squash

Despite being a core sport in the Commonwealth Games since 1998, LA28 will be the debut for the sport in the Olympics. The nature of the sport lends itself well to featuring in the Olympics with many thinking it shouldn't have taken this long to be included in the Games.

Flag football

With American football being the largest sport in the country, it's apt that a version of the game were to be represented in Los Angeles. Flag football features five players per side, each with 2 flags attached to a belt in which the defending team need to pull off in order to make a "tackle" instead of initiating physical contact. 

After featuring in the 2022 World Games, this version of the sport is much more accessible to countries who may not be able to field a 50-strong team to compete in a full game of American football. 

Baseball / Softball

Making its return after featuring in Tokyo 2020, baseball and softball will be once again being played at the Olympics after taking a hiatus at the 2024 Paris Games. The sports are hugely popular in the USA and have been growing in popularity around the world in recent years, namely in Japan where it's seen a great spell of growth leading to its inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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