The World Cup will begin on September 5, exactly one month from now. Officials at the International Cricket Council (ICC) in Dubai, however, seem to have momentarily turned their attention away from the turbulent lead-up to this major tournament in India. Instead, they are currently focused on the 2028 Olympics, a gathering that will take place five years from now.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board will decide whether or not to include cricket in the Los Angeles Games in three days, on Friday, September 8, to be exact. Various interviews with ICC members reveal a tentative hope. “Fingers crossed,” said one ICC participant on Monday. “If everything goes as planned, we should find out by the end of the week.”
A recent remark made by IOC president Thomas Bach provides encouragement for the ICC, which has been actively promoting cricket’s participation in the Olympics for the previous two years. I used to play cricket since I love it so much. In Fiji, I was conducting one. We were crossing a field of play. In Fiji, women participated in cricket. Then my spokesperson, a devoted cricket fan, arrived and told me, “Now you have to play.” Therefore, we visited this women’s cricket squad. And they let me play with them for a little while,” the IOC president recently told CNBC TV in India.
Bach, four vice presidents, and 10 other members make up the 15-member Executive Board, which will meet on Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss a suggestion from the LA 28 Games organizing committee on the addition of new sports. The board’s decision needs to be approved during the IOC Session in Mumbai from the middle of the following month (15–17). There is a great likelihood that LA 28 will choose cricket.
Cricket’s rising popularity in the United States is one of the reported reasons LA 28 is interested in the game. Americans are interested in the Major League Cricket (MLC), which recently finished its debut season. The MLC is also expected to support the creation of infrastructure, with the LA Knight Riders franchise aiming to finish building a 10,000-seat stadium in Los Angeles in three years.
Since September of last year, when the ICC formally proposed cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics, the international cricket organization has informed LA organizers of these changes in a number of meetings. Because LA 28 has established a limit of 10,500 athletes and coaches in the Games Village, a team sport like cricket, with a squad of 15, will draw in more participants, whom the organizers will need to make room for. Six teams in each of the men’s and women’s categories have been recommended by the ICC, which would still call for at least 250 people in the Village, including support staff. The Twenty20 format is advised.
For a place in the LA Games, cricket is up against eight other sports, including flag football, karate, kickboxing, baseball-softball, lacrosse, breakdancing, squash, and motorsport.
Due to cricket’s enormous popularity in India, the world’s most populous nation, international media sources have covered the prospect of its inclusion in the LA Games extensively over the past month. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is interested in India’s 1.4 billion people and booming economy, which is enough to draw their attention. As a result, cricket may be included on the schedule for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, according to a Washington Post article published on August 22.
The Times of London projected a successful outcome for the ICC’s efforts as recently as Monday. According to reports, IOC President Thomas Bach is eager to include cricket because it appeals to the sizable populations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, which have historically been less interested in Olympic sports than other regions of the world. It would be reasonable to anticipate that an Olympic T20 tournament would draw a sizable TV audience, according to the London newspaper. What was left out was the fact that this massive TV audience, especially from an Indian broadcaster, could possibly reach a billion people and bring in an additional $250 million for one edition of the Games.
In 1900, cricket made its Olympic debut in Paris between two teams representing England and France. Cricket is about to make a comeback to the Olympic stage more than a century later. It is now the second most popular sport in the world, trailing only football, but once it is added to the Olympic program, nations like China, Japan, and Brazil are anticipated to take it more seriously and potentially pose a threat to football’s hegemonic status. But that is a topic for another conversation.