It’s official – Cheerleading will not be a sport at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics. But it turns out we should have known that already.
On Monday, October 16, 2023, the International Olympic Committee approved the five new sports for the LA 2028 Olympic Games, and the cheerleading world was surprised to find out our favorite sport wasn’t included. However, after some research, we should have already known that. Cheerleading didn’t even make the shortlist presented by the LA28 Organizing Committee in August 2022.
Nine sports made the Los Angeles Olympic 2028 shortlist in August 2022, including baseball/softball, breakdance, cricket, flag football, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, squash, and motorsport. On October 4, 2028, shortlisted sports made presentations to the Olympic Organizing Committee.
On October 9, 2023, the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games shared their official recommendations for the 2028 LA Summer Olympics. The five sports considered included baseball/softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse, and squash.
On Monday, October 16, 2023, the International Olympic Committee officially approved baseball/softball, cricket, flag football, lacrosse, and squash for inclusion at the LA 2028 games.
It’s official! We’ve added brand new sports to our #LA28 Olympic Games lineup.
⚾️ Baseball, 🥎 Softball, 🚩🏈 Flag Football, 🥍 Lacrosse, ⚫️ Squash, 🏏 Cricket
— LA28 (@LA28) October 16, 2023
How New Sports Are Added to The Olympics
The process of adding a sport to the Olympics is relatively new. The Olympic Agenda 2020, adopted in 2014, introduced new initiatives to maintain the integrity of the Games. Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter allows the host organizing committee to propose new sports. The specific organizing committee for each Olympics is permitted to submit additional sports. The committee must select from the International Olympic Committee Recognized Federations, and there are currently 35 recognized federations, including Cheerleading.
A sport’s inclusion depends upon many factors, including environmental sustainability, universality, gender equality, integrity and fairness, popularity, host country interest, athlete safety, cost, and complexity.
LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman’s quote about the invited sports illustrates what the Olympic Committee hoped to achieve with the Los Angeles 2028 new additions.
“LA28’s proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it. They’re relevant, innovative and community-based, played in backyards, schoolyards, community centers, stadiums, and parks across the U.S. and the globe,” said LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman. “They will bring new athletes to the Games, engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games’ presence in digital spaces, further amplifying LA28’s mission to deliver an unparalleled experience.”
Tokyo 2020 was the first committee allowed to propose new sports.
Tokyo 2020 new events:
- Sport climbing
Paris 2024 new events:
- Break dancing
- Sport climbing
Milano Cortina 2026 (Winter) new events:
- Ski mountaineering
Where Cheerleading Stands
The International Olympic Committee granted the International Cheer Union full recognition on July 20, 2021. Cheerleading is included as a Recognized Federation and is eligible for future Olympic Games.
USA Cheer announced on January 11, 2023, that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee welcomed them as a USOPC Affiliate Sports Organization. The USPOC is a partnership between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and several organizations. Their mission is to increase interest and national programming for sports participation in support of the Olympic and Paralympic movements through partnerships and collaboration efforts. I.e., they work together to help get sports into the Olympics.
While some may have thought this meant Cheerleading was closer to making it into the LA 2028 Game, the LA28 Organizing Committee had already passed over Cheerleading on their shortlist as of August 2022.
Based on the Olympics’ goals and requirements for new sports, it’s not entirely surprising that Cheerleading was unsuccessful. Compared to the sports added for 2028, Cheerleading has a lot of competition. Cheerleading has a complex scoring system and isn’t as globally popular as other sports. It’s hard to understand and might not be as attractive to viewers as the sports added. Much more must be done to increase Cheerleading’s global awareness and participation.
After researching the five added sports for the 2028 Los Angeles event, it’s clear that they meet these Olympic standards.
Cheerleading Participation Across the World
According to the International Cheer Union’s website, there are 119 member National Cheer Federations and 10 million athletes worldwide. The ICU World Championships consistently welcomes more than 70 nations every year.
Quick Facts About Each New LA 2028 Olympic Sport
Cricket made its first and only previous appearance at the Paris 1900 Olympics.
- 1 billion fans worldwide
- 90% of fans are Indian
- 300 million participants
- Source: ESPN Cricinfo
- International Cricket Council Press Release
Lacrosse was previously invited five times but only twice for medals in 1904 and 1908. Their most recent appearance was in 1948.
- Played in 86 countries and is most popular in the United States, with more than 2 million athletes
- Women’s and Men’s federations combined to create World Lacross in 2019
- Lacrosse gained full Olympic Committee recognition in 2021
- Source: Front Office Sports
- World Lacross Federation Press Release
Baseball first appeared in 1904 as a non-medal sport and as a medaled sport in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2020. Softball has appeared five times, including in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2020.
- 65 million people in more than 140 countries participate combined
- 150 million fans in stadiums worldwide
- Source: WBSC
- World Baseball Softball Confederation Press Release
Flag Football will make its Olympic debut in 2023 after gaining provisional recognition in 2013.
- 20 million participants in more than 100 countries
- The NFL has been a fierce advocate for Flag Football as a way to increase broad participation
- The International Federation of American Football and the NFL have a joint venture called Vision28, which aims to develop the sport globally.
- The NFL has a global fanbase that exceeds 340 million people
- Source: Front Office Sports
- International Federation of American Football Press Release
Squash is making its Olympic debut in 2028.
- 20 million participants in 180 countries
- It is a popular casual activity for many people, but questions still need to be answered if it will draw spectators.
- Source: L.A. Times
- World Squash Federation Press Release
The Brisbane 2032 Olympics is likely the next opportunity for a cheerleading Olympic debut. While the Winter 2030 Olympics is hypothetically an option, it doesn’t seem likely based on the other traditional Winter sports. I think Cheerleading has a lot of work to do before we look to the Olympic Games. The future of our sport depends on creating everyday opportunities for athletes and fans worldwide. Will Cheerleading be in the Olympics? Not yet – but hopefully someday.