Cricket at the Olympics? – The Economic Times


For more than a year there has been talk about cricket’s inclusion in the 2028 Olympics to be held in Los Angeles. Just going by the numbers, it should be a no brainer. With billions watching the sport, in South Asia and its ever-growing diaspora, cricket is the perfect foil for the International Olympic Council (IOC) to enter a market that has so far remained untapped.

The Olympics, which claims to be a global movement, hasn’t yet set foot in South Asia or Africa. Considering that the IOC will have to do that sooner than later, nothing opens up South Asia like cricket can. So, where are things at the moment?

According to the people who are handling cricket’s bid to make an Olympic entry, the sport is very much in the fray and is more than likely to be included. The tussle could be with American Football but cricket’s global reach could give it an edge.

“A lot will be known on June 7 and by August we will have a definitive answer on the issue. And then a ceremonial announcement could be made in the IOC session in India in October,” confirmed a senior official dealing with the project. The timing couldn’t have been better.

In October, India will be hosting the ICC World Cup. An announcement on cricket’s inclusion in the LA Olympics in the middle of the World Cup would be huge. The growing importance of the Indian market for the IOC, India attempting to mount a strong bid for the 2036 Olympics and Brisbane, hosts of the 2032 Olympic Games, being a strong base for cricket, all point to things going in favour of the sport.

While we speak on the possible inclusion, the question that also comes to the fore is what has taken so long for cricket’s powers that be to wake up to the idea of trying to push for inclusion in the Olympics?

And here credit must be given to the current administrators whose world vision is far more open than their predecessors. They realise that an Olympic medal around the neck of Shubman Gill, Harry Brook, Smriti Mandhana and Tahlia McGrath will indeed help the sport. Inclusion at the Olympics will help the sport go beyond a few traditional centres. Earlier, the outlook was insular. Now it is more open. Only once was cricket played as part of the Olympics in Paris in 1900. With England and France being the only competing teams, all it needed was just one final.

Baron Pierre De-Coubertin, one of the founders of the IOC, was convinced of cricket’s potential and wanted to push for its inclusion in the 1904 Chicago Games. But That the Games had to be moved to St Louis impacted the sport. Cricket in the United States of America, at the turn of the 20th century, had a steady audience. It was only after 1910 that baseball firmly pushed cricket out of the American consciousness. In fact, had the Games been held in Chicago, cricket could well have had an Olympic future .

Thereafter, however, cricket lost out. One of the reasons behind that was the gradual US takeover of the Olympics . T h e Americanisation of the Games meant the countries of the British Empire would rally for their own Games, which in time were christened the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, starting in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1930. An Olympic medal is special, though.

Even the great Roger Federer values his 2008 Olympic doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka as much as his titles at the Wimbledon. In fact, he is on record on many occasions stating the same. It would be the same for the cricketers. There can be no medal better than an Olympic gold and each player, man or woman, will be delighted to have a chance of playing alongside the world’s greatest athletes. Walking in the village with Novak Djokovic, if he is still around, or our very own Neeraj Chopra, will indeed be something that Mandhana or Gill will look forward to if things are on track for the sport in 2028.



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