Cricket to go global with inclusion in 2028 LA Olympics. Cricket's return to Olympics after 128 years is great for global fanbase.
It seems like the game of cricket has finally won the biggest battle of all times, i.e. of making a return to the summer Olympics in the Los Angeles 2028 edition.
This is going to happen after a gap of 128 years - since making its only appearance in 1900 - and it will potentially be clubbed alongside other sports such as squash, lacrosse, flag football and baseball/softball.
Cricket to return in summer Olympics after 128 years for LA Games
These five proposed sports for inclusion, after intense discussions between LA and the IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) Olympic programme commission, are expected to be reviewed in the next few days.
It will then officially be sanctioned at the 141st IOC session in Mumbai on October 15, Sunday.
While cricket has been a part of the two recent editions of the Commonwealth Games - Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and Birmingham in 2022 - the sport hasn’t been played at the Olympics since 1900. In the year 1900, England defeated France in a one-off match in Paris to clinch the Gold medal.
While negotiations haven’t always been easy between the IOC and LA, the former’s desire to tap into India’s huge market could be a big push for the inclusion of the sport.
“All sports are relevant, innovative and community-based”- LA28 chairperson
Speaking on the occasion, Casey Wasserman, LA28’s chairperson said that all these sports could enhance the Olympics movement.
“LA28’s proposed sports ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it. They’re played in backyards, schoolyards, community centers, stadiums and parks across the U.S. and the globe,” Wasserman said. “They will bring new athletes to the Games, engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games’ presence in digital spaces, further amplifying LA28’s mission to deliver an unparalleled experience.”
ICC chairman Greg Barclay was delighted to hear this and is looking forward to the final decision.
“While this is not the final decision, it’s a very significant landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in more than a century,” Barclay’s statement read. “I’d like to thank LA28 for their support during the new sport evaluation process over last two years.”
The expansion of Cricket around U.S.A and the globe
Despite a long association with cricket - which entered North America as early as the 18th century through British colonies - the sport never became too popular in the USA. At a time when cricket saw rapid growth in countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India and others, it was nowhere near an A-listed sport in the USA.
Its popularity in the USA is nothing when compared to other sports like American football, soccer, basketball, tennis and especially baseball - which is a simpler and native version of the contest between the bat and ball. All these have however changed with the launch of the American T20 league, Major League Cricket (MLC).
The upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 will be co-hosted by the USA. Matches will be played in three venues- Dallas, Florida and New York, which will bring more spectators to the ground. The huge investments made by Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises in the MLC have also benefited them financially.
The mindset of the fans in the USA has been undergoing a change. It is evident by the energy in the crowds whenever India played T20I games in the USA as a part of the Caribbean tour. This fan energy has reached a new high owing to the MLC.
T20 cricket expects to spread its roots
In the last occasion in 1900, cricket was played over two days and consisted of four innings - like a first-class fixture - where UK pipped hosts France to win the gold. However, with Test cricket declining and a major reduction in games played in the 50-over format, T20I is slowly taking over the world.
During its presentation in front of LA28, the ICC recommended a six-team T20 event for both men & women. The participating teams could be the top-six sides in the ICC Men’s and Women’s T20 rankings on a set cut-off date.
The ICC proposed the T20 format, since both LA28 and the IOC have emphasized that the format should be one in which there is a world championship conducted and it should have a dense duration that will attract fans.
Cricket in Olympics will modify Indian culture
Along with the expansion of cricket in the USA, it’s also great news for India. It will not only improve the value of Olympic broadcast rights in the country, but there will be a change in the culture and how it’s enjoyed.
India have won 10 gold, 9 silver and 16 bronze medals so far at the Olympics since 1900. Since winning the gold medal in field hockey in Moscow 1980, India have just added two gold medals to the tally - one in shooting in Beijing 2008 and one in javelin throw in Tokyo 2020.
Even in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, the Indian Women’s team took the silver spot in cricket after a heartbreaking loss to Australia in the finals.
However, in the recently finished Asian Games 2023, both Men’s and Women’s India cricket teams managed to grab gold medals.
Therefore, with the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics, the Indian dream of winning gold in double figures could soon become a reality.