Boxing set to be officially dropped from programme of sports for LA Olympics 2028

The addition of cricket, baseball, flag football, lacrosse and squash will increase the LA28 programme to 33 sports

The proposal to add five new sports to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles has once again left boxing fighting for its inclusion, renewing fears that future Irish medal hopes may take a major hit.

The LA28 organising committee on Monday confirmed their proposal for the additional five new sports, four team and one individual, after months of discussions with the IOC.

The addition of cricket, baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash will also increase the LA28 programme to 33 sports, one more than next year’s Paris programme, which already has an overall reduced athlete quota of 10,500.

All five additional sports are now set to be ratified at the 141st IOC session in Mumbai, which starts on Sunday, part of the concern now being there may simply be no room for boxing when the IOC reassess their quota for 2028.


Ahead of the announcement of the five new sports in LA, four sports are currently not listed compared to next summer’s Paris programme: boxing, weightlifting, modern pentathlon, and breaking (otherwise known as break dancing, which is set to make its debut in Paris, but is already cut for 2028).

These are notably all individual sports, typically presenting less numbers than team sports. According to the IOC, should all five new sports be approved “the final programme of events and the number of athlete quotas in the additional sports (for LA) will be finalised in the future”.

Last year, LA28 announced its initial programme of 28 sports, boxing being the most conspicuous absentee. As things stand these 28 are: aquatics, archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, canoe, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), golf, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling.

A spokesperson from the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) said they had not yet received any official indication on the status of Olympic boxing beyond Paris, for better or for worse. Ireland has won 18 of its overall 35 Olympic medals in boxing, including gold for Kellie Harrington and bronze for Aidan Walsh in Tokyo, with Harrington set to defend that title in Paris.

However, boxing has feared getting the Olympic chop since Rio 2016, with those Games riddled by controversial judging decisions, and in 2019 the IOC suspended the International Boxing Association (IBA) for its continued failure to address other governance and financial matters.

Then in June of this year, at an Extraordinary IOC Session staged remotely, the IOC withdrew all recognition of the IBA. That decision which was backed by 69 members (with one vote against and 10 abstentions), the first time the IOC has kicked out a governing body in its 129-year history.

In the aftermath of that IOC session, however, IOC director general Christophe De Kepper did give his assurances that boxing would still feature on the sports programme at Los Angeles 2028. How the addition of five additional sports changes that situation is unclear.

In the meantime, in order to improve relations with the IOC, several national governing bodies have defected to a new World Boxing body, including USA Boxing.

So, while the IOC will again organise the boxing programme and qualification for Paris next year, as it did for Tokyo, boxing as of now is not listed on the proposed LA28 programme.

LA28, as with all recent Olympics, had the opportunity but not the obligation to consider including new sports for its edition of the Games: “LA28′s proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it. They’re relevant, innovative and community-based, played in backyards, schoolyards, community centres, stadiums and parks across the US and the globe,” said LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman.

“They will bring new athletes to the Games, engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games’ presence in digital spaces, further amplifying LA28′s mission to deliver an unparalleled experience.”

Cricket, proposed to be contested in the Twenty20 format, previously featured at the Olympics in 1900. Lacrosse, to be played in the sixes format (staged over four eight-minute quarters) has been contested at two Olympics, in 1904 and 1908, and subsequently featured as a demonstration sport at the 1928, 1932 and 1948 editions.

Baseball and softball both featured at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but were omitted from the Paris 2024 programme. Flag football, a five-on-five non-contact sport variant of American football, is set to make its Olympic debut, as will squash. Only for now, the question of where exactly boxing will fit in come 2028 remains unclear.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics