World Lacrosse has reached another milestone in its quest to bring lacrosse back to the Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee voted in its 138th session Tuesday to grant full recognition status to World Lacrosse — a historic moment for the international federation of a sport last featured on the Olympic platform 73 years ago.
“This is a momentous day for lacrosse enthusiasts around the world and a reason for our entire World Lacrosse family to celebrate,” World Lacrosse president Sue Redfern said in a press release. “We are deeply grateful to the membership of the International Olympic Committee for today’s vote and the expression of confidence it reflects. With full recognition comes greater responsibility, and we are committed to serving as an active and engaged member of the international sport community and supporting our partners across sport.”
The vote took place during the IOC session in Tokyo ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games.
“The evaluation process for full recognition has been intensive, but at every step in the process, the IOC has helped make World Lacrosse a stronger, more effective international federation, and we greatly appreciate the IOC’s ongoing support and encouragement,” World Lacrosse CEO Jim Scherr said. “While today’s decision represents a historic milestone for World Lacrosse, it is not the culmination of our journey. Rather, we will use this new status and the momentum it creates to find new ways to continue expanding opportunities for participation in lacrosse around the globe while supporting even greater growth.”
Lacrosse was a medal sport in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and a demonstration sport in 1928, 1933 and 1948. World Lacrosse has its sights set on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles for a return to the program.
The IOC granted provisional recognition to World Lacrosse in 2018, unlocking funding for development and giving the international federation three years to conform with the Olympic Charter.
World Lacrosse has cleared every hurdle since then, demonstrating compliance in the areas of governance, anti-doping and competition integrity while growing its membership to 70 nations on six continents. Seven new nations have joined in the last 20 months. The Olympic Charter states that a sport must be practiced widely by men in 75 countries on four continents and by women in 40 countries on three continents to be eligible for the Olympics.
Lacrosse is not there yet. But the sport inched closer to that goal Tuesday.
Full recognition ensures that World Lacrosse will maintain its status as a member of the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF). Additionally, World Lacrosse will continue to be eligible to receive financial support through the IOC Development Program and will continue to benefit from access to IOC meetings, educational seminars, publications and other resources.
World Lacrosse formally introduced a new discipline of the sport — World Lacrosse Sixes — this year to better position it for Olympic inclusion. The up-tempo, high-scoring 6v6 game is less specialized, requires fewer players, can be played on a smaller field and is shorter in duration than the traditional field discipline. World Lacrosse also envisions Sixes as an impetus for continued growth of the sport worldwide and better competitive balance.
USA Lacrosse recently held its first Sixes training camp, including practices at USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., and Blue-White men’s and women’s exhibitions at USA Lacrosse Nationals in Frederica, Del.