Raymond H. Goettsch
With the 2022 Winter Olympics in our rearview mirror, one wonders if pickleball can become an Olympic sport at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris or the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The International Pickleball Federation (IPF), based in Goodyear, Ariz., is a non-profit, volunteer organization that has been working to have pickleball recognized and accepted as an Olympic sport. Created in 2010, the IFP has been seeking to become the world governing body for pickleball. To that end, the IFP has expanded from its inaugural member countries of the USA, Canada, Spain, and India to 70 countries. Once the IPF has 75 members, it should be recognized by the Global Association of International Sports Federations as the worldwide spokesperson for pickleball.
In addition, adopting the Olympic model, the IPF has formed five continental federations: Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. The IPF has created and sponsored the Bainbridge Cup Tournament, first held in Spain in 2017. The IPF’s goal is to make the 2022 Bainbridge Cup Tournament the world championship of pickleball. The dates and location of that tournament have not yet been announced.
According to Pickleball Fire magazine, IFP President Pat Murphy has reported that the organization is also analyzing the attempts of other sports to become Olympic sports. In this regard, the IPF has focused on racquetball and badminton. Racquetball has not yet been recognized as an Olympic sport; however, badminton has received that recognition, even though its popularity is somewhat questionable. Of some note is the fact that badminton is played on the same size court as pickleball.
Since both France and the USA are IPF members, the IPF expects pickleball to have some presence at the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 and in Los Angeles in 2028. That presence may take the form of exhibition play.
According to the Desert Sun, Steve Sidwell, the IPF director of membership, has acknowledged that money alone can be a big factor in the determination of whether a sport becomes an Olympic sport. Information regarding the IPF, including opportunities for volunteer work and other support, can be found at the IPF website, www.ifpickleball.org.