LA Olympics break tradition with first-week athletics

Athletics, for so long the premier attraction in the second week of an Olympic Games, will shift to the opening week of the global sporting showcase in Los Angeles in 2028 while swimming takes centre stage later in the programme.

Normally, swimming takes place in the opening week of a Games, but the decision to switch the traditional Olympic schedule for LA four years hence has been made by the governing bodies of the two sports.

Meanwhile, the canoe slalom and softball events for the LA Games will be held in Oklahoma City, organisers also revealed on Friday.

The athletics competition will be held at the LA Memorial Coliseum, making it the only venue in history to host athletics in three Olympic Games.

Swimming will be held at the shared home of the National Football League's Rams and Chargers, which will become the largest swimming venue in Olympic history, with 38,000 seats.

The plans for the opening and closing ceremonies remain unchanged, with parts hosted at both the Coliseum and SoFi Stadium.

As a result, the traditional schedule for athletics and swimming will be adjusted.

The temporary competition and warm-up pools will be already built and covered during the opening ceremony.

Afterwards, a temporary stand will be constructed while athletes train in the lead-up to the start of swimming.

"World Aquatics feels very comfortable that any impact will be minimal, notably when compared against the great opportunity we have been given to showcase our sport," the governing body said in a statement.

"We are excited to support this visionary timetable change for LA28," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

"This change underscores our commitment to innovation in athletics and elevating the global profile of our athletes."

Swimming was originally set for the baseball stadium on the University of Southern California campus, which is undergoing major renovations to its athletic facilities.

LA28 said the decision to move canoe slalom and softball to Oklahoma City stemmed from a realisation that there were no suitable venues for either sport in Southern California.

According to LA28, the largest softball venue in Southern California seats fewer than 2000 people, which does not meet the expected demand, and there is no canoe slalom venue in the region.

LA28 also said the decision to use venues in Oklahoma City that were "built to international competition standards" will help reduce the cost of temporary stadium builds while also supporting a balanced budget.