Five sporting events have been approved for the 2028 Olympic Games, and most or all of them could be available for wagering by sportsbooks in the United States.
Earlier this week, the 141st Session of the International Olympic Committee approved the addition of baseball/softball, Twenty20 cricket, flag football, six-person lacrosse, and squash for the 30th Summer Olympic Games, which return to Los Angeles for the first time since 1984.
Baseball and softball have been Olympic sports in prior Olympics but haven’t always been included in the summer games in recent years, based on the familiarity and popularity with the sports most closely identified with the United States. Cricket and lacrosse are making a return to the Olympic Games after more than a century absence, while flag football and squash are appearing for the first time.
Not every state may allow wagering on each of the new sporting events. Each jurisdiction maintains a sports wagering catalog that is the result of regulatory oversight. Most states do not permit betting on Olympic events that require judging (such as gymnastics or figure skating), with the notable exception of Nevada and New Jersey. None of the five sports added to the schedule this week for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games has a judge component.
“The choice of these five new 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,” Thomas Bach, IOC president, said in a statement this week.
Five New 2028 Olympic Events in Los Angeles
Baseball and Softball
For Americans, baseball seems like a natural for the summer games of the Olympics. But it hasn’t always been involved. For decades, while the game basically thrived in North America from the 19th century into the mid-20th century, baseball was a regional sport. But the introduction of baseball to Japan in the 1930s by Lefty O’Doul changed history. Without O’Doul’s efforts in Japan, we likely wouldn’t have Shohei Ohtani to enjoy.
Even though Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Japan began to build fine baseball leagues in the 20th century, the game was not included in the Olympics as an official medal sport until 1992. But following the 2008 games in Beijing, the sport was dropped. Why? Two reasons: the best players in the world (from Major League Baseball in the US) were unable to compete because of scheduling and the level of interest in the game wasn’t that high internationally.
Softball has largely followed the same path but with an additional problem: the US teams have utterly dominated the competition for years. That led to the game being dropped with its partner baseball in 2012.
The 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics did not feature baseball or softball, but they returned for Tokyo in 2020. It seems the game will likely only be part of the Games when they take place in a country that has a passion for baseball.
Because the Olympics are played in the summer, you will not see active MLB or NPB (Japan professionals) in the games.
Most Americans have heard of flag football and may have even played it at one point in gym class. The professional and international game has grown in recent years. The concern over head injuries from tackle football has led to an increase in participation in the sport. The sport has an international governing body: the International Federation of American Football. In 2028, the sport will make its debut in the Olympics.
Because of the timing of the games before the National Football League and college seasons, there has been speculation that active pro and college tackle football players might compete in the ’28 Olympics in LA.
The greatest thing about cricket is its amazing 36-degree playing field and action-packed competition with fast “bowling” and whip-like reflexes of the batsmen. But the worst thing about cricket is the length of games, which can literally last days or weeks. And yes, I’m using the word “literally” correctly here.
That’s where Twenety20 Cricket comes in: the rules make the game shorter. That equals more action in less time, and a contest that can be enjoyed in less than two hours in most cases. The Twenty20 game (called that because each side only gets 20 “overs” or times to strike the ball) has become very popular with cricket fans and will be a medal sport in 2028. The best players and teams will likely be South Africa, England, and Australia.
North American sports fans are at least somewhat familiar with lacrosse, which is an NCAA sport for many schools in the US. But, it’s still a niche sporting event dominated by a few regions, such as Canada and the northeast of this country. For the first time in history, six-person lacrosse, both men’s and women’s, will be held at the 2028 Olympics.
Squash is in a strange position: a racket sport that’s in many ways been usurped by the tremendous growth of pickleball the last few years. Tennis is also far more popular. But squash has a following and professional rankings with talented players across the globe. Aficionados are going to love seeing the many forms of squash (men’s and women’s singles, doubles, mixed, jumbo, and more).
“The inclusion of squash in the LA28 Olympic Games is a significant breakthrough for the sport,” said U.S. Squash Chief Executive Kevin Klipstein. “Being part of the Olympic Games has been a long-held goal for the squash community, and inclusion will serve as a catalyst to increase awareness of what is already a major participatory sport globally.”