Saturday, December 9, 2023

ICC to push for cricket’s inclusion in Olympics, Los Angeles 2028 ‘primary target’


DUBAI, August 10: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday confirmed its intention to bid for cricket’s inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The ICC has been making the case for cricket’s inclusion for a while and the bid will also have the backing from the world’s richest board BCCI as made clear by secretary Jay Shah recently.
Fearing loss of its autonomy and interference from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the BCCI was not very enthusiastic about cricket’s inclusion in the Summer Games earlier but now Shah has assured India’s participation at the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza if the ICC manages to secure its entry.
The ICC has also formed an Olympic Working Group which will work on making the game part of the Olympics starting from 2028.
“Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future. We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics,” ICC chairman Greg Barclay said in a statement.
“Clearly cricket has a strong and passionate fanbase, particularly in South Asia where 92% of our fans come from, whilst there are also 30 million cricket fans in the USA. The opportunity for those fans to see their heroes competing for an Olympic medal is tantalising.”
The game will be making a return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1998 with women’s cricket set to be introduced in the 2022 Birmingham edition.
Barclay also congratulated the organisers of the recently concluded Tokyo Games which were held under the dark shadow of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Firstly on behalf of everyone at the ICC, I would like to congratulate the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the people of Japan for staging such an incredible Games in such difficult circumstances.
“We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same.
“But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics could be,” he said.
As per the Los Angeles Games website, the IOC will determine the core Olympic sport program for the 2028 edition in 2024.
“In 2024, the IOC will consider LA28’s proposal for any new Olympic sports to be included in the 2028 Games. Following Tokyo and Paris, Los Angeles will be only the third organizing committee to propose new sports,” it stated.
England and Wales Cricket Board Chair Ian Watmore will Chair the ICC Olympic Working Group and he will be joined by the ICC Independent Director Indra Nooyi.
Also part of the Group will be Chair of Zimbabwe Cricket Tavengwa Mukuhlani, ICC Associate Member Director and Vice President of the Asian Cricket Council Mahinda Vallipuram and Chair of USA Cricket Paraag Marathe “who believes the time is ripe for an Olympic bid”.
“USA Cricket is thrilled to be able to support cricket’s bid for inclusion in the Olympics, the timing of which aligns perfectly with our continuing plans to develop the sport in USA,” Marathe said.
“With so many passionate cricket fans and players already in the USA, and a huge global audience and following for the sport around the world, we believe that cricket’s inclusion will add great value to the Los Angeles Olympics and help us to achieve our own vision for establishing cricket as a mainstream sport in this country.”

The only time cricket was part of the Olympics was in 1900 when England beat France in a two-day game. (PTI)