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Pickleball Around the Globe: What Countries Are Embracing the Sport?

Pickleball Around the Globe: What Countries Are Embracing the Sport?

  • Pickleball is taking the world by storm! Once a US phenomenon, countries like Canada, China, and Australia are embracing the fun. With its growing popularity, ambassadors are working to spread the sport even further. We explore how different countries are adopting pickleball and what this means for the future. Could pickleball become an Olympic sport?
Pickleball players

Whether you’re in the office or the carpool line, you’re never far from another pickleball player. 

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, with more and more people hitting the pickleball courts every day. Last year, 13.6 million people tried the sport, according to Sportico. That’s a 52% increase from 2022! 

It’s safe to say pickleball continues to take America by storm. It’s also starting to pick up steam outside of the States, with dozens of countries from Canada to China to Australia joining in on the fun. 

What’s next for pickleball globally? We took a look at how passionate pickleball players are trying to grow the sport internationally – and what the game looks like across the world. 

When Will Pickleball Reach the Olympics?

This year, the Paris 2024 Olympics will feature breaking (or breakdancing) for the first time. When will pickleball join the Olympic slate? That’s to be determined. 

To become an Olympic sport, a sport has to be governed by an International Federation and implement the World Anti-Doping Code. It also needs to be played widely in 75 countries and on four continents to be added to the male sports slate. It has to be widely played in 40 countries and on three continents to make the female sports slate.

Pickleball will not be part of the 2024 Olympics and was not on the additional sports proposal for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The next possible opportunity for pickleball to join the Olympic slate will be the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia.

Does Pickleball have an International Federation?

Tennis and golf thrive on international competition. Pickleball is trying to duplicate the magic by growing the game globally and pursuing Olympic inclusion. 

There are several international federations for pickleball, including the International Pickleball Federation (IPF) and the World Pickleball Federation (WPF). In 2023, merger talks began between both organizations, according to Pickleball Union. 

USA Pickleball also announced an international federation in 2023. The Global Pickleball Foundation (GPF) features over two dozen countries. The overall goal of the federation is to grow the game internationally at all levels by providing educational resources, equipment, and tournament support. The group also has its eyes set on earning Olympic recognition and the eventual inclusion of the sport in the Paralympic and Olympic games.

What Does Pickleball Look Like Across the World?

Each of the international federations includes governing organizations from around the world.

Every country, though, has its own unique pickleball events and culture. We took a look at how three countries in various parts of the world are approaching pickleball. 

Pickleball in China

Pickleball is sweeping China and shows no signs of slowing down. Seymour Rifkind, a pickleball ambassador, organized several exhibitions of the sport. He told Front Office Sports that one of the events generated 4.8 million views on streaming platforms. He predicts that China could “have 10,000 courts and 100 million players” within five years.

Figuring out the best players in China is also about to get easier. DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) announced the launch of DUPR China in January. They will also host a 

Fans of the game will also be able to watch tournaments in China. The Association of Pickleball Players (APP Tour) partnered with ESPN in 2023 to air tournament coverage in China. 

Pickleball in Canada

America’s pickleball obsession is starting to hit our neighbors to the north. Pickleball Canada estimates that 1.37 million Canadians played pickleball at least once a month in 2023, up from 1 million in 2022. More women and young people are playing the game than ever before. 

Canada is also putting its own unique spin on the pickleball trend. Destination Canada will host a limited-edition pop-up pickleball spa this month. The DinkDunk Pickleball Spa in Quebec features spa treatments, cold plunges, and – you guessed it – plenty of pickleball. The waitlist is already closed, but we can’t wait to hear what visitors think of the experience. The pop-up runs from March 16-23, 2024.

Pickleball in Australia

Interest in pickleball doubled in 2023, according to the Pickleball Australia Association. At the start of 2023, just 4,000 people were members of a local club or state/territory organization. At the end of the year, 9,000 people were members. The organization estimates that 25,000 people play pickleball nationwide. National Pickleball League Australia CEO Ron Shell told The Guardian that the number could grow to one million in three years. 

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