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In a significant boost to cricket’s inclusion in the Olympic fold after a century-long wait, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday accepted the proposal to include T20I cricket along with squash, lacrosse, flag football and baseball/softball in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. The IOC’s decision will now be up for a final vote in the 141st IOC session in Mumbai this weekend.
IOC President Thomas Bach who earlier in the week, described himself as a “fan” of T20 cricket, said the sport has great potential while adding that the proposal was accepted smoothly.
“The South Asian community in the United States has helped to make the game attractive in Los Angeles,” he said at a media briefing on Friday.
The recommendation was made by the Los Angeles 2028 local organising committee for the “potential inclusion” of five new sports, cricket, baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash, as new sports for the Games.
Cricket’s only appearance in the global sports event dates back to the 1900 Paris Olympics, in which only two teams — hosts France and Great Britain took part, with the latter walking away with the gold medal.
Bach also maintained that all the five sports will allow the Olympics with new athletes and fan communities across the US and globally.
“These proposals have been accepted as a package by the IOC executive board taking into consideration that these proposals and these sports are fully in line with the sports culture of our host in 2028, with the American sports culture,” he said.
“They will showcase iconic American sports to the world while bringing at the same time international sports to the United States. The inclusion will, on the other hand, allow the Olympics to engage with new athletes and fan communities in the US and globally,” he added.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) had recommended a six-team T20 event for both men and women during its presentation before the LA28 organisers. Accordingly, the participating teams would comprise the top-six ranked sides in the ICC’s men’s and women’s T20 rankings on a cut-off date.
If the IOC session votes in favour of cricket’s return to the Olympic fold, it will help the ICC spread its wings to the non-cricketing markets, especially in Europe. While the game enjoys popularity in the subcontinent and in Asia overall, the recently-concluded Asian Games gave a glimpse of how the game has spread across the Asian continent.
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 141st IOC session, being held in India for the first time since 1983, will be held at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai on Saturday and Sunday.