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Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport? Pickleball’s Shot at the Olympics

The Olympics. The greatest stage in sports. The one sporting event that brings together athletes and fans from all countries in a worldwide celebration of sports, culture, and the human spirit.

As pickleball continues to grow in popularity, many are wondering when pickleball will be recognized as an official Olympic sport. Today, we answer all your questions on pickleball’s status as an Olympic sport and look ahead to where the game is heading.

Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport?

As of 2023, pickleball is not an Olympic sport. However, with its growing popularity and ever-increasing international profile, we will likely see pickleball on the international stage sooner rather than later.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fun and fast-growing sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It’s easy to pick up, offers plenty of health benefits, and is one of the most enjoyable social sports. It was started in America and was founded by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965

How does a sport qualify for the Olympics?

International Olympic Flags

To be included in the Olympics, a sport must meet specific criteria outlined by various governing bodies that oversee the Olympics.

For a sport to be added, there are three main criteria:

  1. It must be accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body of the Olympics
  2. The Olympic Charter states that to be accepted, a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. It must also follow the Olympic Anti-Doping Code
  3. The sport has to cross the “threshold of international popularity.”

Does Pickleball Meet the Criteria for the Olympics?

To be accepted by the IOC, a sport must have an international federation associated with it. Thankfully, the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) exists, and leaders within the IFP like Steve Sidwell are working tirelessly to get pickleball into the Olympics as soon as possible.

As mentioned previously, the Olympic Charter also states that an Olympic sport must be widely practiced in at least 75 countries and four continents for male sports, and 40 countries and three continents for female sports. According to the IFP, pickleball has already grown to over 60 member countries and has enjoyed a significant 360% increase in member countries since 2019.

Based on this data, pickleball is well on its way to fulfilling the international participation standard the Olympic Charter requires. Regarding the Olympic Anti-Doping Code, its establishment and enforcement will be a natural progression once pickleball’s international and competitive scene matures.

Finally, the sport needs to cross the “threshold of international popularity.” Domestically, pickleball is regularly cited as one of the fastest-growing sports in America.

With a strong base in America, growing efforts at the IFP to expand pickleball globally, and new players discovering the game every day, we believe it’s only a matter of time before pickleball is a well-known international sport that fulfills the “threshold of international popularity” set by the Olympics.

Even if a sport meets all the criteria, it does not guarantee that it will be included in the Olympic lineup. Today, several sports fulfill all the Olympic requirements but are not part of the Games.

Ultimately, other important considerations like viewership, potential revenue, and general public interest and sentiment are key in determining whether a sport is Olympic-worthy.

The good news is pickleball is one of the hottest sports right now, attracting a wide range of investment, increasing viewership, and a growing player and fan base that will help it make the final Olympic push it needs.

Will Pickleball be in the 2024 or 2028 Olympics?

Los Angeles Summer Olympics 2028

Based on the above, it’s reasonable to question if pickleball has a chance of being featured at the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

For 2024, it is the opinion of experts that pickleball will not be an Olympic sport. Including a new sport in the Olympics is a long and arduous process that demands significant time, attention, and resources.

However, the 2028 Summer Olympics looks more promising. 2028 is five years out at the time of this writing. Importantly, this means that pickleball, a sport in its early stages of mainstream popularity, will have an additional five years to meet and exceed the requirements outlined by the Olympics. This time will also give pickleball five years to continue to grow its international player and viewership base.

The 2028 Summer Olympics are set to take place in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles hosting marks the first time the USA is hosting the Olympics since the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The United States last hosted the Summer Olympics during the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia. In either case, it’s been over 20 years since the Olympics was hosted on American soil. The 2028 Games in America would be a special time to introduce pickleball, a sport that was invented in America, on the world stage.

We believe this may play an important part in giving pickleball the final push it needs to become an Olympic sport.

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