October 17, 2023
NEW DELHI – It’s official. Cricket made a return to the Olympic fold after a decade-long wait with the International Olympic Council (IOC) voting in favour of hosting T20 cricket at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. In addition to cricket, four other sports — baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash — also got the nod of the global governing body on Monday after its 141st session held in Mumbai over the weekend.
As reported by The Statesman, cricket is set to be a six-team T20 event, with hosts USA getting a direct qualification, which means the remaining five spots will be up for grabs by the best teams during the qualification period. The qualification process will be announced at a later date, the IOC said.
Earlier, the local organising committee of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics had recommended the five sports as a package. On Monday, the IOC voted unanimously in favour of including all the five sports, with just two members voting against. “The proposal is approved,” IOC president Thomas Bach announced at the session in Mumbai.
Last week, addressing a conference, Bach described himself as a “fan” of T20 cricket while saying that the sport has great potential.
Cricket has only featured in one previous edition of the Olympics in 1900 when only two teams took part, with Great Britain walking away with the gold after beating hosts France.
Reacting to the formal announcement, Greg Barclay, the chair of the International Cricket Council (ICC), said, “Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympic Games has been a priority for our organization, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase our great sport and athletes at the LA28 Games and hopefully many Olympic Games to come.”
“I’d like to thank LA28 and the International Olympic Committee for their support and for their trust in our organisation’s ability to deliver a world class event and countless new Olympic fans from all over the world. The fact that the IOC confirmation of our selection occurred here in Mumbai, during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, is truly icing on the cake,” he added.
Jay Shah highlights BCCI’s role
Highlighting the role of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in securing cricket’s comeback to the Olympic Games, board secretary Jay Shah said that the decision was a significant milestone for the sport.
Shah, who was part of the ICC Olympics working group, played a crucial role in the process. Ever since the Indian women’s team returned with a silver from the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games and both Indian teams (men and women) securing gold medals at the Hangzhou Asian Games, the BCCI secretary has been a strong advocate of cricket’s inclusion in multi-discipline events.
“The BCCI has been a staunch supporter of the ICC’s efforts to include cricket as an Olympic sport. We are thrilled to witness this momentous occasion, which marks a significant milestone for the sport. Our active participation has been instrumental in promoting the case for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics. This initiative aligns with the idea of India hosting the 2036 Olympics, as envisioned by our Hon’ble Prime Minister,” Shah said.
“We anticipate that this decision will yield significant financial dividends and have a profound positive impact on our sport’s eco-system. It will fuel infrastructural development, intensify competition, foster youth development, and create opportunities for officials, volunteers, and skilled professionals,” Shah added.
Cricket’s inclusion in the Los Angeles edition could also pave the way for a more sustainable stint, given that the 2032 Olympics will be held in Brisbane, where the game has a large following, especially in the Trans-Tasman region. The Statesman understands that the sport will once again have to be reconsidered for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
As far as cricket in the US is concerned, the ICC has been able to tap the market to a large extent, thanks to the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi diasporas. In the past five-six years, India’s tour to the West Indies, is incomplete without a couple of T20Is played in the US. In addition to that, the ICC has also granted the hosting rights of next year’s T20 World Cup jointly to the West Indies and the US.
The IOC session is being held in India for only the second time in history, returning to the country after 40 years.