Lacrosse to return to the Olympic Games in 2028
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.