Will Pickleball Be at the Paris Olympics? LA 2028?


Paris Pickleball Olympics

In recent years, pickleball has taken the sporting world by storm, captivating players of all ages with its unique blend of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. As this paddle sport continues to grow in popularity, many enthusiasts have begun to wonder: Will pickleball make its debut on the Olympic stage?

The buzz surrounding pickleball's potential inclusion in the Olympics has been steadily building, fueled by the sport's rapid expansion and the passion of its growing community. With its accessibility, social nature, and appeal to players of diverse skill levels, pickleball seems primed for the global spotlight that the Olympics would provide.

However, the road to Olympic inclusion is not a simple one. In this article, we'll explore the current status of pickleball in relation to the Olympics, the requirements for becoming an Olympic sport, and the efforts being made to bring pickleball to the world's biggest sporting event.

Current Status of Pickleball in the Olympics

Olympics for pickleball

As of 2024, pickleball is not an Olympic sport. While it has gained significant traction in North America and is spreading rapidly in other parts of the world, it has yet to achieve the global reach and organizational structure required for Olympic consideration.

The process of becoming an Olympic sport is rigorous and highly competitive. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) carefully evaluates potential new sports based on a set of strict criteria. These criteria are designed to ensure that sports included in the Olympics have widespread global appeal, strong organizational backing, and adhere to the values and standards of the Olympic movement.

Requirements for Olympic Inclusion

For a sport to be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games, it must meet several key requirements set forth by the IOC. These criteria are designed to ensure that Olympic sports have truly global appeal and are well-organized at an international level. Let's break down the main requirements:

Global Participation

  • The sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries across four continents.
  • It must be widely practiced by women in at least 40 countries across three continents.

This requirement ensures that Olympic sports have a truly international following and are not dominated by just a few countries. It also promotes gender equality in sports participation.

International Federation

The sport must have a recognized international federation that governs its rules and organizes international competitions. For pickleball, this role is filled by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).

Anti-Doping Compliance

The sport and its governing body must adopt and implement the World Anti-Doping Code. This requirement ensures fair play and maintains the integrity of Olympic competition.

Youth Appeal

The IOC places a high value on sports that appeal to younger audiences. This criterion has become increasingly important in recent years as the Olympics seek to remain relevant to new generations of sports fans.

Media and Spectator Interest

The sport should have the potential to attract significant media coverage and spectator interest. This factor is crucial for the commercial success of the Olympics.

Gender Equality

The IOC is committed to promoting gender equality in sports. New sports are often expected to offer events for both men and women.


The sport should bring something new to the Olympic program. The IOC aims to maintain a diverse range of sports that showcase different skills and abilities.

Cost and Complexity

The IOC considers the cost and logistical complexity of including a new sport. Sports that require expensive, specialized venues or equipment may face additional hurdles.

Efforts to Include Pickleball in the Olympics


The pickleball community, led by organizations like the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), has been working diligently to meet the criteria for Olympic inclusion. Here are some of the key efforts being made:

  • Expanding Global Reach: The IFP and national pickleball organizations are actively promoting the sport in countries around the world. As of 2024, pickleball is played in over 60 countries, but efforts are ongoing to reach the required 75 countries for men's participation and 40 for women's.
  • Standardizing Rules and Equipment: The IFP has established standardized rules and equipment specifications to ensure consistency in international competition. This standardization is crucial for Olympic consideration. Pickleball Rules and Regulations
  • Organizing International Competitions: The IFP organizes world championship events and is working to establish a regular calendar of international tournaments. These events help raise the sport's profile and demonstrate its capacity for high-level competition. Pickleball Tournaments
  • Promoting Youth Participation: Many pickleball organizations are focusing on youth programs and school initiatives to grow the sport among younger players. This aligns with the IOC's emphasis on youth appeal.
  • Building Media Partnerships: Efforts are being made to increase media coverage of pickleball events, including partnerships with sports networks and streaming platforms. This increased visibility is essential for demonstrating the sport's spectator appeal.
  • Advocacy and Lobbying: Pickleball advocates are engaging with sports administrators, Olympic committees, and other influential bodies to make the case for the sport's inclusion in the Olympics.

Challenges and Realities

Despite the enthusiastic efforts of the pickleball community, the sport faces several challenges in its quest for Olympic inclusion:

  • Competition from Other Sports: Pickleball is not the only sport vying for a spot in the Olympics. It faces competition from more established sports with larger global followings.
  • Limited International Spread: While pickleball is growing rapidly, it still needs to expand its reach to meet the IOC's geographical requirements. This expansion takes time and significant resources.
  • Perception as a Recreational Sport: Pickleball is often viewed as a casual, recreational activity rather than a serious competitive sport. Changing this perception is crucial for Olympic consideration.
  • Venue and Equipment Considerations: While pickleball courts are relatively simple, adding a new sport to the Olympics requires significant logistical planning and investment in facilities.
  • Balancing the Olympic Program: The IOC must balance the addition of new sports with the need to keep the Olympics manageable in terms of athletes, events, and duration.

Potential for 2028 Los Angeles Olympics

Many pickleball enthusiasts had hoped that the sport might make its Olympic debut at the 2028 Los Angeles Games, given its popularity in the United States. However, this prospect is highly unlikely for several reasons:

  • Timeline for Inclusion: The process for adding new sports to the Olympics typically takes place years in advance. The sports program for the 2028 Games is already largely determined.
  • Competing Sports: Several other sports have been proposed for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics, including:
    1. Flag Football: A non-contact version of American football that has gained international popularity.
    2. Baseball-Softball: These sports are seeking a return to the Olympic program after being dropped following the 2008 Beijing Games.
    3. Cricket: With its massive global following, particularly in South Asia, cricket is making a strong push for Olympic inclusion.
    4. Lacrosse: Another sport with growing international appeal, particularly in North America and parts of Europe.
    5. Squash: A sport that has been campaigning for Olympic inclusion for many years.

These sports, among others, have established international federations and meet many of the IOC's criteria for inclusion.

  • Focus on Established Sports: The LA 2028 organizing committee has expressed a preference for including sports with strong existing fan bases in the United States, which could favor options like baseball-softball or lacrosse over pickleball.
  • Limited Spots: The IOC has set limits on the number of sports, events, and athletes that can be included in the Olympics. This constraint makes it challenging to add entirely new sports to the program.

Future Prospects

While pickleball is unlikely to be included in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, its future Olympic prospects remain promising. Here are some possibilities for the sport's Olympic future:

  • 2032 Brisbane Olympics: The 2032 Games in Brisbane, Australia, could present an opportunity for pickleball's inclusion. By then, the sport may have had time to meet more of the IOC's criteria and build a stronger case for its addition.
  • Demonstration Sport: Pickleball could potentially be included as a demonstration sport in 2028 or 2032. While demonstration sports are no longer officially part of the Olympic program, host cities sometimes showcase additional sports as part of cultural events surrounding the Games. This could provide valuable exposure for pickleball on the Olympic stage.
  • Youth Olympic Games: The Youth Olympic Games, held every four years, sometimes feature demonstration events for emerging sports. This could be another avenue for pickleball to gain Olympic recognition.
  • Continental Games: Inclusion in major continental multi-sport events like the Pan American Games or Asian Games could be a stepping stone towards Olympic recognition.
  • Paralympic Consideration: Given pickleball's accessibility and adaptability, it could also be considered for inclusion in the Paralympic Games, which sometimes adopt sports before they enter the Olympic program.


While pickleball will not be part of the Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, the sport's Olympic journey is far from over. The rapid growth and passionate community behind pickleball provide a strong foundation for its future Olympic aspirations.

Meeting the IOC's stringent criteria for Olympic inclusion remains a significant challenge, but one that the pickleball community is actively working to overcome. As the sport continues to expand globally, standardize its competitive structure, and build its media presence, its case for Olympic inclusion will only grow stronger.

The path to becoming an Olympic sport is long and competitive, but pickleball's unique appeal and growing popularity suggest that its Olympic dreams are not unfounded. While it may not happen in the next Olympic cycle, there's reason to be optimistic about pickleball's Olympic future in the years to come.