Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport? Will It Be?

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No, pickleball is not an Olympic sport.

It’s outrageous that pickleball was excluded from the shortlist of new sports proposed for the 2028 Olympics. As one of the fastest growing sports worldwide, pickleball clearly deserves a place on the international stage – the LA2028 Organizing Committee made a huge mistake leaving it out of their recommendations.

Road to the Olympics: Pickleball’s Ascent and the Quest for 2028 Inclusion

While the 2024 Paris Olympics won’t see pickleball as a featured sport, the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics presents a promising horizon. Spearheading the drive for Olympic inclusion is Steve Sidwell, the International Pickleball Federation’s (IFP) President. Under his leadership, IFP’s international membership has soared, nearing the critical benchmark of 75 nations, a key requirement for Olympic consideration.

Sidwell, with a keen eye on the intricacies of global sports recognition, underscores that a sport’s Olympic journey hinges on more than just global presence. Viewer interest and sponsorship potential are critical; after all, the Olympics thrive on engaging sports that draw audiences and sponsors. Sidwell cites skateboarding’s unconventional route to the Tokyo Olympics as an example of popularity triumphing over traditional criteria. Pickleball, with its cost-effective infrastructure and rising global appeal, is uniquely positioned to capitalize on these factors. Sidwell’s optimism is contagious, especially with IFP’s strategic initiatives and the sport’s surging popularity, hinting at a potential demonstration in Paris 2024 as a prelude to Los Angeles 2028.

When Will Pickleball Be In the Olympics?

For any sport to be included in the Olympics, it must meet the eligibility criteria laid out in the Olympic Charter. As the supreme authority on the Olympics, the Charter mandates that new sports must comply with the World Anti-Doping Code and Olympic Movement Code on match manipulation.

More importantly, the Olympic Charter stipulates that an Olympic sport must have a strong global presence. Specifically, it must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries across four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries on three continents.

So when is pickleball going to be an Olympic sport?

Benefits of Being Included in the Olympics

  1. What the Olympics Can Do for Pickleball: If pickleball gets into the Olympics, it’ll get a lot more attention from people all over the world. This means more people might start playing and supporting it. It also gives the sport a sort of special status and can help bring in more money and resources to make the sport better.
  2. Why Pickleball Isn’t in the Olympics Yet: Right now, pickleball isn’t played widely enough around the world to be considered for the Olympics. A sport needs to be popular with men in at least 75 countries across four continents, and with women in at least 40 countries across three continents. Pickleball hasn’t reached these numbers yet.
  3. Other Sports Getting In: Sports like cricket, baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse, and squash are being considered or have been in the Olympics. Some have been trying for a long time to get into the Olympics.
  4. What’s Next for Pickleball: Pickleball is growing and might get big enough to be considered for the Olympics in the future. The soonest it could happen is probably the 2032 Olympics or later. There’s also a chance it could be shown as a demonstration sport to help it get more popular.

So, pickleball lovers will need to look to 2032 and beyond and hope the sport keeps growing to see it in the Olympics.

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