Flying Disc hoping to glide into spot on LA28 sports program

An effort is underway to see flying disc, commonly referred to as ultimate frisbee, elevated to the Olympic Games in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. A new format known as Ultimate 4′s will be proposed for inclusion.

With the U.S. Capitol in the background, players battle for possession during a game of ultimate frisbee on the National Mall during a heat wave in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, players battle for possession during a game of ultimate frisbee on the National Mall during a heat wave in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) has revealed that it is actively seeking the inclusion of flying disc on the sports program for the 2028 Summer Olympics. The sport hopes to rely on an new, innovative format, and its Southern California roots, to gain a coveted spot on the sports program.

WFDF President Robert “Nob” Rauch confirmed the plans, stating, “flying disc is an incredibly attractive sport for the Olympic Games and we are formally working to be on the program in Los Angeles in 2028.”

He explained, “flying Disc, or frisbee, is a quintessential Southern California sport, with the first flying discs being commercially produced starting in 1948 in the Los Angeles area. The sport has huge international appeal, and the leading Flying Disc disciplines are now played in more than 120 countries, of which 100 nations are currently members of WFDF.”

“WFDF intends to propose mixed gender Ultimate 4′s as the event, which can be played in existing venues on either grass in a football or soccer stadium, or on the beach. Our format for this team event fully embraces gender equality, and mixed team competition has been our format at The World Games since our debut in 2001.”

He concluded, “our sport appeals to today’s youthful audience and would be an appealing addition to the LA28 program. We are coordinating closely with our member federation in the USA, USA Ultimate, in our approach to the decision-making groups.”

According to the WFDF, Ultimate 4′s was developed specifically for multi-sports games, with particular attention given to inclusion on the Olympic program. The format was designed to acknowledge the constraints of time, space, and availability of athletes’ quota, while attempting to preserve essential qualities of the sport.

World Games 2022 sign at flying disc venue (TWG2022)
World Games 2022 sign at flying disc venue (TWG2022)

Ultimate 4′s is played in the four-on-four format with a mixed gendered roster, limited to six players per team. Games are played utilizing two 18 minute halves for a total game time around 45-48 minutes. The format has been designed to be adaptable, so that both grass and beach venues can be utilized.

The format differs noticeably from the traditional seven-on seven game, which has a longer game time, larger team rosters, and is traditionally played on grass.

WFDF Vice President and Ultimate Chair Brian Gisel commented on the format, saying, “this new format is an exciting addition to our sport.”

“Ultimate 4′s is designed to showcase athleticism and throwing ability, keep the game moving, and to adapt the game for fans reached through broadcast media as much as in-stadium spectators.”

“The limited number of players on the field makes for a very brisk pace of play and ensures that both the men and women need to be fully engaged, and the size of the field means that scoring can come from anywhere at any time.”

Flying Disc likely faces a crowded field of sports hoping to be included in the sports program of the 2028 Summer Olympics. It is known that cricket and karate, among other sports, are also targeting inclusion at LA28.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Karate - Men's +75kg Kumite - Semifinal - Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan - August 7, 2021. Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia in action against Ryutaro Araga of Japan. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Karate - Men's +75kg Kumite - Semifinal - Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan - August 7, 2021. Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia in action against Ryutaro Araga of Japan. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

One potential advantage for flying disc would be its popularity in Southern California. The sport is played at the professional, university, and club level across the region. There are also pick-up games played at various locations throughout Southern California.

Flying disc would also be one of a few sports potentially making a homecoming appearance at LA28. Flying disc, triathlon, and skateboarding can all trace their modern origins to the Golden State. Sports, such as sport climbing and surfing, undoubtedly embedded in the culture of California, could also be present on the Olympic program in 2028.

It remains to be seen what direction local organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will take when it comes to finalizing the sports program, but the potential for a uniquely Californian Olympic Games remains.

For now, the WFDF will have to hope to win over LA28 and the IOC before a final decision on the sports program for the 2028 Summer Olympics is made.