International Cricket Council has been chasing International Olympic Committee (IOC) for quite a while now and they are persistent to push their case forward to finally include Cricket as a team sport in the Olympics 2028 which is scheduled to be hosted in Los Angeles. ICC has submitted its request to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games organizing committee (LA28) which has the authority to finalize the list of new sports by March 2023 which will then be reviewed by a comprehensive panel of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at a session scheduled to take place in Mumbai this year in October.
Cricket in Olympics
If the panel does approve the ICC’s formal request to allow cricket as a sport in the Olympics then ICC will further brainstorm ideas about the tournament structure. We till now know that the proposed tournament will be played in the T20 format and only the top six teams will be allowed to participate as per the ICC team rankings in T20Is for both Men & Women on a cut-off date. Management of LA28 & IOC has told ICC that the format should be one in which there is a world championship conducted and has a compact duration and significant spectator interest.
Due to these requirements set by the panel, the T10 tournament as well as One Day Internationals are ruled out from the Olympics and only T20 Cricket is the best available option left to pursue by the ICC to play in LA28.
Due to the complexities of the Olympic games, the panel also told ICC if Cricket is approved it can only be played in a single venue due to Olympic Agenda 2020+5 which primarily focuses on cost-cutting measures. ICC has already seen the benefits of having a single venue at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last July-August, where women’s T20 cricket was one of the 19 disciplines.
Which Other Sports are Competing for LA28 Games?
LA28 panel has received applications from baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse, break dancing, karate, kickboxing, squash, and motorsport other than Cricket and it will be an interesting call to see how many more sports the panel will approve in October this year in Mumbai. Currently, 28 sports have already been approved by the panel in February 2022.
ICC’s Olympics Working Group Leadership
The ICC panel who are in constant contact with the International Olympic Committee comprised of Greg Barclay (ICC chairman), Indra Nooyi (independent director), Paraag Marathe (former USA Cricket president) & Jay Shah (chair of the finance and commercial affairs committee).
Jay Shah has recently been inducted into this panel due to the fact that IOC recognizes India as a viable commercial market that can one day host the Olympic games and it is no hidden fact that India is a major partner and hub of revenue generation for Cricket as a global sport. It is a very good tactical move by ICC to have Shah on their board who can influence the IOC panel to include Cricket in the Olympic games at LA28.
The working group has also informed all ICC member nations about the progress they have had so far with LA28 management and will share more plans with all cricket-playing nations regarding this development.