Flag football at the Summer Olympics
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The 2028 Summer Olympics will introduce the sport of flag football for the first time. Two events, one for men and one for women, will be held. Flag football, a variant of American football in which players remove flags attached to the ball carrier instead of tackling them, was previously contested at the 2022 World Games.


See also: American football at the Summer Olympics

American football

Out of the major professional sports in the United States, only American football has never been an official sport at the Olympic Games.[1] It has been a demonstration sport at the Summer Olympic Games twice: at the 1904 Summer Olympics, several games were played at Francis Olympic Field between college football teams, and the status of these matches as Olympic is dubious; and in 1932 Summer Olympics, one game was played between East and West All-Stars.[2][3] Although several American football players have been Olympians, American football itself has never been an official Olympic sport.[4][5] The sport has been considered by some as incompatible with the Olympics for several reasons, among them the high-risk of injury, inconvenience in the time period the games are held and its non-global popularity.[6]

In 2013, the Olympics gave provisional recognition to the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), setting up a possible future vote for the sport to be at the games.[7] The IFAF applied to the Olympics for 2020, but was denied, with controversy in the 2015 IFAF World Championship contributing to the decision.[4][8]

Flag football

After American football was declined as an Olympic sport, the IFAF launched efforts to include at the games flag football, a non-contact variant of the sport where players pull off flags from the ball carrier instead of tackling them.[9][10] The National Football League (NFL) began to push for the sport to be held at the 2028 Summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles, California, as way to improve its global popularity.[11][12] In 2022, they jointly launched the group "Vision28" to lobby for it to be included at the games.[13] The NFL and IFAF considered flag football a viable alternative to American football for its limited contact, low costs, and due to it being playable by both men and women.[14][15]

At Super Bowl LVII, the NFL held a five-on-five flag football event between players from the Mexican and American national teams in front of Olympic officials, and they also were able to have flag football featured at the 2022 World Games.[12][16] It moved closer to being at the Olympics when the International Olympic Committe (IOC) Executive Board gave the IFAF approval to be considered by the full IOC in March 2023.[17] By August 2023, it was announced as one of nine sports in consideration for the 2028 games, along with cricket, motosport, baseball / softball, karate, breakdancing, kickboxing, lacrosse and squash.[18] In early September, the sports making it were to be finalized by the IOC, but it was postponed as negotiations between organizers of the 2028 games and the IOC continued.[19] In mid-October, flag football was approved by the IOC at their meeting in Mumbai, India, as one of five additions for 2028, along with cricket, squash, baseball / softball and lacrosse, with only two out of 90 members voting "no".[20] The approved version will feature two events, one for men and one for women, with the games being played five-on-five on a 50-yard field with no linemen.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ Wilson, Steve (January 10, 2023). "Why flag football and the LA28 Olympics would be a perfect fit". SportsPro Media.
  2. ^ Mallon, Bill (July 11, 2015). The 1904 Olympic Games: Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. pp. 204–205. ISBN 9781476621609.
  3. ^ Emery, Tom (February 12, 2022). "When football was part of Olympics, White Hall player was on the field". Journal-Courier.
  4. ^ a b Rolfe, Ben (July 22, 2021). "Why isn't American football in the Olympics?". Pro Football Network.
  5. ^ Rank, Adam. "Olympians in the NFL". National Football League.
  6. ^ "Why American Football Will Not Become an Olympic Sport". American Football International. November 29, 2021.
  7. ^ Marvez, Alex (December 10, 2013). "Football takes step toward Olympics, could be medal sport in 2024". Fox Sports.
  8. ^ Gaither, Steven J. (June 13, 2015). "IFAF applies to have American football in 2020 Summer Olympics". The Sporting News.
  9. ^ Tennery, Amy; Keating, Steve (April 27, 2021). "Olympics-NFL looks to score touchdown with Olympic flag football". Reuters.
  10. ^ Campigotto, Jesse (May 7, 2021). "Why flag football could be the next Olympic sport". CBC.ca.
  11. ^ Williams, Madison (April 5, 2022). "NFL Wants Flag Football Included in 2028 Summer Olympics". Sports Illustrated.
  12. ^ a b Young, Jabari (April 3, 2022). "Flag football at the Olympics might be the key to the NFL's overseas business plan". CNBC.
  13. ^ "Israeli flag football team aims for 2028 Olympics participation". The Jerusalem Post. June 15, 2023.
  14. ^ Vincent, Troy (July 29, 2023). "Op-Ed: Flag football can't be ignored; time to get on board is now". National Football League.
  15. ^ Effress, Sarah (July 9, 2023). "Flag football in the Olympics? After a festival in Charlotte, the sport has momentum". The Charlotte Observer.
  16. ^ "Giants Now: Flag football an Olympic sport?". New York Giants. July 8, 2022.
  17. ^ Tanyos, Faris (March 29, 2023). "Flag football moves one step closer to becoming an Olympic sport". CBS News.
  18. ^ "Olympic officials to decide on new sports for '28 L.A. Games". ESPN. Reuters. August 14, 2023.
  19. ^ Newberry, Paul (September 15, 2023). "Column: Flag football at the Olympics? Stop chuckling, it might happen". Associated Press.
  20. ^ "Cricket, flag football among 5 sports added to 2028 Olympics". ESPN. October 16, 2023.
  21. ^ "IOC approves cricket, flag football for 2028 Los Angeles Games". ESPN. October 13, 2023.
  22. ^ Hajduk, Gabby (October 16, 2023). "Bears celebrate flag football becoming an Olympic sport". Chicago Bears.
  23. ^ McKessy, Jack (October 10, 2023). "Everything you need to know about flag football's Olympics bid". USA Today.