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Will pickleball be an Olympic sport?


By Brynn Grissom

on Jul 09, 2024

 

Professional pickleball player Rachel Rohrabacher cheers after winning a point on the PPA Tour with her SLK Halo paddle.

It’s no secret that pickleball has been rapidly growing in popularity globally. 

With professional tours in the United States attracting players from all over the world — including Catherine Parenteau from Canada and Federico Staksrud from Argentina — and new tours emerging in Australia and Asia, many are questioning: Will pickleball become an Olympic sport?

Why joining the Olympics would be good for pickleball

Not only would the inclusion of pickleball in the Olympics be good for professional players, it could bring several benefits to the sport itself, including:

  • Global exposure: Being part of the Olympics would provide pickleball with unparalleled global exposure. The Olympics is one of the most-watched sporting events worldwide, and inclusion would introduce the sport to a vast audience, potentially attracting new players and fans from different parts of the world.
  • Higher level of competition: Olympic recognition would likely elevate the level of competition in pickleball. With more countries investing in training and development, the sport would see an influx of talented players, raising the overall standard of play.
  • Increased funding and development: Olympic status often leads to increased funding from national sports organizations and sponsors. This financial support could be used to develop infrastructure, support athletes, and promote the sport.

Will pickleball be a sport in the 2024 Olympics?

The short answer is no. For a sport to be included in the Olympics, it must go through a rigorous selection process managed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This process includes factors such as global reach, popularity, and adherence to Olympic values.

To be added as a summer Olympic sport, the sport must:

  • Be practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents.
  • Be practiced by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents.
  • Have adopted and implemented the World Anti-Doping Code Sport.
  • Be admitted to the Olympic lineup seven years before the Olympic Games in which players hope to compete.

Currently, pickleball has not yet met the criteria required for Olympic inclusion. It needs more international governing bodies, increased global participation, and formal recognition by the IOC. 

Is it possible for pickleball to be added to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics?

The lineup for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics has already been set, and unfortunately, pickleball is not included. 

However, approved sports for 2028 include baseball/softball, cricket, and lacrosse. Sports making their Olympic debut in Los Angeles include squash and flag football. 

Given the set lineup for 2028, the earliest possible inclusion of pickleball in the Olympics would be the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. However, it is more likely that the sport would need until 2036 — the location is yet to be announced — to meet all the necessary criteria and gain the required support.

Growing support for pickleball in the Olympics

While pickleball's inclusion in the Olympics is not on the immediate horizon, the sport's rapid growth and increasing global popularity suggest that it could be a contender in the future. 

For now, fans and players can continue to enjoy the burgeoning professional tours and look forward to the day when pickleball might join the ranks of Olympic sports.

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