National Sports

Why part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics will be held … in Oklahoma

The 2028 Summer Olympics will be more than the Los Angeles Games. In fact, they will be more than a California or West Coast Olympics with softball and canoe slalom moving to Oklahoma City.

At a venue announcement marking four years from the start of the L.A. Games, organizers revealed that swim events will be held in a temporary pool inside SoFi Stadium, the home of Los Angeles’s two NFL teams.

The moves are cost-saving measures to avoid having to build new facilities - something local organizers have pledged in the spirit of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, which did minimal new construction, and in keeping with demands from the International Olympic Committee to make their Games more affordable. Los Angeles doesn’t have a white-water sports facility nor does it have a pool with a stadium large enough to host Olympic events.

“There’s not any existing venue [for white-water events] in California or frankly, the western United States,” L.A. 28 chairman and president Casey Wasserman said Friday in a video call announcing the new venues.

Oklahoma City has what Wasserman called “a top-tier venue” for canoeing in a facility built along the Oklahoma River next to downtown. He added that the city’s Devon Park, host of the Women’s College World Series has undergone extensive renovations making it what he called “the best softball venue in the country.”

The Oklahoma City move is not unprecedented. The surfing competition for this summer’s Paris Olympics will be in Tahiti, and many of the mountain competitions at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be in places four and five hours from Milan. The International Olympic Committee has even discussed moving sliding sports out of Italy if a sliding center, under construction near Cortina, is not finished in time.

L.A. 28 had originally planned to host swim events in a temporary stadium built inside USC’s baseball stadium on the edge of downtown Los Angeles, but USC wants to renovate the stadium forcing Games organizers to find a different venue. After searching around the L.A. area, Wasserman said: “We had this big fun, idea to move it to SoFi.”


A few years ago, such a move would be unimaginable, but organizers of this summer’s Paris Olympics are putting swimming in a temporary pool in a two-tier indoor rugby stadium. USA Swimming is hosting its Olympic trials at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Wasserman, who will attend the trials this weekend, said his staff has been working with the crews that built the temporary pool in Indianapolis for ideas.

But putting swimming in SoFi has created another logistical issue since the stadium is also supposed to be the primary host of the Opening Ceremonies, sharing the duty with the Los Angeles Coliseum near downtown L.A. Normally, swimming takes place during the first week of an Olympics, but with the need to quickly transform SoFi, Wasserman said swimming will switch with track and field.

He added that the SoFi pool will be built long before the Olympics begin and will be covered for the Opening Ceremonies.

Wasserman also said that canoers and softball players will be able to attend either the opening or Closing Ceremonies so they won’t feel left out of events in L.A. while they are in Oklahoma.