Is Lacrosse An Olympic Sport? (No – But It Will Be Soon)

world lacrosse full recognition by international olympic committee

How is the fastest growing sport in America – and the oldest team sport in North America – not in the Olympics? Believe it or not, lacrosse was played as a full medal sport in the Olympics in 1904 and 1908. It was then played as an exhibition sport in the 1928, 1932, and 1948 Olympic Games. Due to the arcane rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), lacrosse was never fully recognized as an Olympic sport. With lacrosse experiencing explosive growth around the world today, it is on the fast track to becoming an Olympic sport by 2028.

Lacrosse’s Brief Olympic History

Lacrosse was played as a full medal sport in the Olympics in 1904 and 1908. A Canadien team won both times. Lacrosse was then held as a demonstration sport in the Olympics in 1928, 1932, and 1948. Due to arcane rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lacrosse

Lacrosse 1904 Olympics

lacrosse world games
Credit: CrosseCheck

Three lacrosse teams competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics: the United States and two Canadien teams, one which consisted entirely of Mohawk nation players. The Canadien Shamrock team, which consisted of French Canadien players, took home gold in 1904. There was supposed to be a second American team at the 1904 Olympics, the Brooklyn Crescents, but they arrived late and were disqualified.

When did lacrosse start in the Olympics?

Lacrosse was first featured in the Olympic Games at the 1904 Summer Olympics. It consisted of two Canadien teams and one United States team.

Lacrosse 1908 Olympics

lacrosse around the world games
Credit: Olympic.ca

Lacrosse returned to the Olympics Games at the 1908 Summer Olympics. Only two teams competed in 1908 (one less than the prior Olympics), Canada and Great Britain. Canada took home the gold.

Why was lacrosse removed from the Olympics?

As rules and regulations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tightened in the early 20th century, lacrosse was removed as an Olympic sport due to the fact that it was not governed by an International Federation recognized by the IOC.

In order for lacrosse to be added to the Olympics, it must be a governed by an International Federation. This governing body must propose the sport to the organizing committee of the Olympic Games, and IOC for final approval.

Will Lacrosse Ever Be In The Olympics?

lacrosse sixes at the world games
75,000 fans watched the U.S. beat Canada in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles

With lacrosse becoming more popular than ever, the question becomes – how can lacrosse return to the Olympics? Well, the journey has already begun. In 2008, World Lacrosse (formerly the Federation of International Lacrosse) was founded as an internationally recognized body of lacrosse, representing the men’s, women’s, and indoor versions of the sport. After the development of World Lacrosse, the organization has taken massive strides in bringing lacrosse back to the Olympics:

  • In 2017, lacrosse debuted at the World Games, an IOC regulated event.
  • In 2018, World Lacrosse was granted provisional recognition by the IOC; unlocking funding for development and giving the international federation three years to conform with the Olympic Charter.
  • In July 2021, the IOC granted full recognition to World Lacrosse in a historic decision.

In order to be introduced into the Olympic Games, the Olympic charter states thata 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. World Lacrosse recently surpassed this goal with a membership of 77 nations on 6 continents.

Is Lacrosse In The Olympics 2024?

Lacrosse is not in the 2024 Summer Olympics. Although lacrosse was recently granted full recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it needs to submit a proposal to the Olympic organizing committee and be formally accepted.

Is Lacrosse An Olympic Sport In 2028?

Possibly! Lacrosse is one of 9 sports who have been invited by the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee to present their case for inclusion at the Olympics. World Lacrosse is expected to formally submit the “Sixes” discipline to the organizing committee.

FAQ

ioc executive board gives full recognition to lacrosse

Why Is Lacrosse Not An Olympic Sport?

Lacrosse is not an Olympic sport because it did not have an International Federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In the past decade, World Lacrosse emerged as the prominent governing body for the sport, and was recently fully recognized by the IOC, taking it one step closer to appearing in the 2028 Olympic Games.

Is Women’s Lacrosse An Olympic Sport?

Women’s lacrosse is not an Olympic sport. Just like men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse never had an international governing body that was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Under World Lacrosse (the now official IOC-recognized federation for lacrosse), the women’s game is on the program with the men’s game. In other words, if lacrosse is accepted into the Olympics, the men’s and women’s lacrosse game will both be accepted and played under the “Sixes” format.

Is Lacrosse Going To Be An Olympic Sport?

Possibly. Lacrosse is one of 9 sports who have been invited by the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee to present their case for inclusion at the Olympics. World Lacrosse is expected to formally submit the “Sixes” discipline to the organizing committee.

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