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Lacrosse to return to the Olympic Games in 2028


MUMBAI, India, Oct. 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- World Lacrosse’s decades-long vision to return the sport to the Olympic stage has been realized, with the International Olympic Committee approving lacrosse’s inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. 

The approving vote today by the IOC Session – which includes 99 international sport leaders – was the last step of a formal process initiated by the LA28 Organizing Committee last year to add new sports to the Games in Los Angeles. 

LA28 will mark the third Olympic appearance for North America’s first sport that is now played in nearly 100 countries around the world, after it was contested 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. 

To celebrate the inclusion of lacrosse in the Olympics and recognize the magnitude of the moment, World Lacrosse will launch A New Era, a campaign aimed at propelling the sport into its next generation via pivotal growth in participation, popularity and sustainability. 

In 2028, men’s and women’s lacrosse will be competed in sixes, an incredibly fast-paced, compact version of the sport at the intersection of field and box lacrosse. It offers an inclusionary opportunity to all lacrosse athletes and an easier entry point for new players, and is characterized by an accelerated, open style of play with quick transitions and non-stop, high-scoring action. 

Developed in 2018, sixes has advanced global growth, increased accessibility and approachability, created greater competitive balance, and reduced cost and complexity of participation and event staging. It is the next generation version of the game.

World Lacrosse President Sue Redfern said: “There is no greater designation than to be recognized as an Olympic sport. The global lacrosse family has been passionately working toward reaching this pinnacle for more than a decade. This seminal achievement would not have been possible without the effort of many visionary and dedicated individuals who collectively recognized that Olympic inclusion is the most significant catalyst for the continued growth of a sport. I offer our sincere gratitude to LA28 and the IOC for allowing us to realize our vision; now is our time to shine and show the world how lacrosse contributes to a better tomorrow.”

World Lacrosse CEO Jim Scherr said: "Today is a remarkable moment in the history of both lacrosse and the Olympic Games. 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.”

“This decision reaffirms the Olympic values of unity, diversity and athletic excellence. We eagerly anticipate sharing the beauty of lacrosse with the world and take immense pride in participating in an Olympic Games that champions inclusion and diversity. Together, we will make history on the grandest stage in sports and inspire future generations with the power of lacrosse."

Lacrosse was originated by North America’s Indigenous peoples in the 12th century and remains a significant part of Native American culture, highlighted by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s participation in World Lacrosse events.

Uniquely, men’s and women’s organized lacrosse developed in parallel dating back to the 19th century, led by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. International Federations were separately established in the 1970s, then merged in 2008 with a united vision of returning to the Olympics. 

Following recognition by numerous global sports bodies and provisional status from the IOC in 2018, World Lacrosse’s Olympic vision became possible following 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 today’s final decision. 

Over the last two decades, lacrosse has seen unprecedented growth, doubling its membership from 45 to 90 National Federations. Lacrosse is now played in all five continental regions, with four continents represented in the world top-10 rankings for both men and women.  

Lacrosse is one of five new sports being added to the sport program for LA28, joining baseball/softball, cricket, flag football and squash. 

As the global lacrosse community and the Olympic family unite in celebration, the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles promise to be a stage for lacrosse’s very best athletes as they vie for the sport’s highest honor.

What They’re Saying

Joe Tsai, Alibaba Group Chairman/Lacrosse supporter in North America and internationally: "This momentous occasion is a testament to the unwavering dedication and persistence of the global lacrosse community. Together, 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, and we're excited to showcase thrilling competition while uniting fans from all corners of the world on the grandest sporting stage."

Marc Riccio, USA Lacrosse CEO: “We are thrilled that the International Olympic Committee has voted to include lacrosse in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In some ways, it feels like we’ve reached the finish line with so many people working towards this goal for so many years. 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.”

Jane Lee, Korea Women’s National Team/World Lacrosse Athletes’ Commission Chair & Board Member: “I am thrilled that our collective efforts have cumulated in this monumental achievement. It is an astounding success, and I couldn't be more excited about the milestone we have reached together. As athletes, this is the pinnacle of our sport, and we would like to thank World Lacrosse and the entire lacrosse community around the world for their dedication, passion and unwavering commitment in this journey for Olympic inclusion. It is a true celebration of the rich history of lacrosse, and a testament to the unity of our sport.”

Paul Rabil, Premier Lacrosse League Co-Founder/2x World Champion (USA): “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. There have never been more opportunities for players at the youth, high school, college and professional levels. Our path of ascendency in just five years at the PLL proves the incredible potential and possibilities of the sport – where today's news further cements lacrosse as the next great global game. A special thank you to LA28 and the IOC for believing in our vision. To World Lacrosse and every lacrosse organization around the world that continues to invest in the growth of the game: thank you. We're back.”

Brett Frood, National Lacrosse League Commissioner: “The legacy popularity and growth of lacrosse in North America is poised for mass acceleration, inclusive of traditional epicenters and aspiring hotbeds alike. There is a robust appetite for all disciplines of the game and this Olympic opportunity will fortify a collective rise the tide mentality. Sixes is box lacrosse’s close cousin, so the National Lacrosse League looks forward to doing its part in welcoming, surprising and energizing new and existing fans to our uniquely entertaining sport and game experience. On behalf of the NLL, we congratulate the LA28 Organizing Committee and World Lacrosse and fervently join the global lacrosse community in celebrating this monumental moment.”

Abi Jackson, Athletes Unlimited Director of Lacrosse: “The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of athletic competition, and a dream for every athlete. Having lacrosse be part of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games is a monumental moment for our sport and the millions of athletes who play across the United States. We are also thrilled that our decorated professionals who have dominated in global competition for years will finally be able to showcase their talents on sport’s biggest stage.”

Lena Stede, Germany Women’s National Team/German Lacrosse Association Athletes’ Commission Member: "For us athletes, the IOC's decision to integrate the sport of lacrosse into the 2028 Olympic Games shows an incredible appreciation for the performance that has been shown on and off the field for decades, with hard work from everyone involved and without large financial resources. The fact that we can now represent our sport at the largest sporting event in the world makes us incredibly proud. The decision shows how much potential the sport of lacrosse has to offer, and we athletes will work even harder to fully develop this potential."

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