Pickleball On the Cusp of Olympic Glory

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Pickleball, a rapidly growing paddle sport, has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions around the world. Its blend of tennis, badminton, and table tennis elements has made it a favorite among players of all ages and skill levels. As the sport’s popularity continues to surge, the question on everyone’s mind is: Will pickleball become an Olympic sport?

A Brief History of Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The sport quickly gained a following in the US and has since spread to countries across the globe. Today, there are over 4.8 million pickleball players in the US alone, and the number continues to grow rapidly.

Criteria for Olympic Inclusion

For a sport to be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games, it must meet certain criteria set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). These criteria include:

  • Global reach: The sport must be practiced in at least 75 countries and three continents.
  • High level of competition: The sport must have a well-established competitive structure with a clear system for determining the best athletes.
  • Anti-doping measures: The sport must have a comprehensive anti-doping program in place.
  • Popularity: The sport must be widely popular and have a significant worldwide following.

Pickleball’s Progress towards Olympic Inclusion

Pickleball has made significant progress in meeting the IOC’s criteria for Olympic inclusion. The sport is currently played in over 70 countries across five continents. It has a well-established competitive structure, with major tournaments held around the world. In addition, pickleball has a strong anti-doping program in place.

The sport’s popularity is also undeniable. The number of pickleball players is growing rapidly, and the sport is now regularly featured on television and in major newspapers. In 2021, pickleball was named the fastest-growing sport in the US by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Current Status of Pickleball’s Olympic Bid

Pickleball is not currently an Olympic sport, but it is actively pursuing inclusion in the Games. The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has submitted an application to the IOC, and the sport is currently under consideration for inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The IFP has launched a comprehensive campaign to promote pickleball’s Olympic aspirations. The campaign includes a series of exhibition matches, clinics, and media appearances. The IFP is also working closely with national pickleball organizations around the world to build support for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics.

Advantages of Pickleball as an Olympic Sport

There are several reasons why pickleball would be a great addition to the Olympic Games. First, the sport is highly accessible and easy to learn. This makes it a great option for people of all ages and skill levels.

Second, pickleball is a competitive and exciting sport to watch. The fast-paced rallies and spectacular shots keep spectators on the edge of their seats.

Third, pickleball has a strong global presence. The sport is played in countries across the world, and it has a large and passionate fan base.

Challenges to Pickleball’s Olympic Inclusion

There are also some challenges that pickleball must overcome in order to become an Olympic sport. One challenge is the sport’s relatively short history. The IOC generally prefers to include sports that have a long and established tradition.

Another challenge is the lack of a unified governing body for pickleball. Currently, there are two major governing bodies, the IFP and the United States Pickleball Association (USAPA). The IOC requires a single, recognized governing body to represent a sport.


Pickleball is on the cusp of becoming an Olympic sport. The sport has met many of the IOC’s criteria for inclusion, and it has a large and enthusiastic following around the world. The IFP is actively pursuing Olympic inclusion, and the sport has a strong case for being added to the Games in the near future.

Whether or not pickleball becomes an Olympic sport remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the sport is here to stay. Pickleball is a fun, accessible, and exciting game that is enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. As the sport’s popularity continues to grow, it is likely that we will see more and more pickleball tournaments, including the ultimate dream of Olympic competition.

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