Cricket Team Aims for a Chance at Olympic Gold

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Cricket Team Aims for a Chance at Olympic Gold

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LONDON – The prospect of cricket returning to the Olympics after a lengthy absence may be on the horizon as Games organizers convene in Mumbai this week to finalize the Los Angeles 2028 program.

The schedule for the event already boasts 28 confirmed sports, but cricket has emerged as one of five new sports formally proposed for inclusion on Monday by the organizers.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has suggested the addition of men’s and women’s Twenty20 competitions, the briefest form of international cricket. ICC chairman Greg Barclay expressed his delight at LA28’s recommendation for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics.

While this is not the final decision, it marks a significant milestone towards bringing cricket back to the Olympics for the first time in over a century.

If cricket secures its place, it would mark the sport’s Olympic return for the first time since 1900 when a British team triumphed over a French side in Paris.

In the ensuing years, cricket remained absent from the Olympic stage, partly because the sport itself was content to remain outside of the Games’ fold. However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has in recent times signaled its eagerness to be part of this global extravaganza, a step that could invigorate the sport and open up new markets.

Our sport stands united in support of this bid, and we envision the Olympics as an integral part of cricket’s long-term future,” stated Greg Barclay in 2021, Chairman of the ICC. We boast over a billion fans worldwide, and nearly 90 percent of them are eager to witness cricket at the Olympics.

Cricket has garnered support from influential figures within the Olympic movement. Former ICC president Jacques Rogge expressed in 2011, “We would gladly consider an application. Cricket is an important and widely-followed sport, with considerable appeal on television.” The current president, Thomas Bach, has also voiced his support for cricket’s inclusion, especially following its appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year.

This week, the IOC executive board gathers in Mumbai, a city deeply passionate about the sport as it hosts the men’s 50-over World Cup. Cricket could not have picked a better backdrop to plead its case.

Concerns that Olympic cricket would clash with the English season or that it is excessively time-consuming are becoming increasingly obsolete. The global cricket calendar now features a medley of international, domestic, and franchise formats vying for attention. The immensely popular Indian Premier League (IPL), responsible for spawning similar franchise competitions worldwide, has reshaped the cricket landscape, sidelining traditional five-day Test cricket in favor of the fast-paced T20 format.

The IPL, showcasing international cricket stars, has catapulted India to the forefront of cricket’s economic prowess, drawing in countless fans and securing lucrative broadcasting deals in a nation where cricket is almost a religion. Adding cricket to the Olympic program appears financially sound, tapping into the affluent South Asian market and attracting fans from countries like India and Pakistan, traditionally less prominent in core Olympic sports.

Furthermore, Olympic inclusion could potentially open doors to significant public and corporate funding, currently reserved for Olympic sports. This not only holds promise for emerging cricketing nations but also offers a lifeline to financially strained established cricketing countries like South Africa.

Reference:

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20231010-cricket-set-for-shot-at-olympic-glory

https://en.prothomalo.com/sports/cricket/lfvgc19u81

https://www.rfi.fr/en/sports/20231010-cricket-set-for-shot-at-olympic-glory

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