Mumbai: Cricket fans around the world have a reason to celebrate as the sport is set to make its Olympic debut after 128 years. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved the proposal to include T20 cricket, along with four other sports, in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The final decision will be made by a vote during the IOC session on Sunday.
The IOC executive board, led by President Thomas Bach, met in Mumbai on Friday and gave a green signal to the proposal submitted by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. The other four sports that have been approved are baseball, softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes), and squash.
Bach said that these five sports were chosen based on their popularity, youth appeal, gender equality, and legacy potential. He also said that these sports would not increase the number of athletes or events in the 2028 Games, as they would replace some existing ones.
“We have seen the increasing popularity of cricket, especially the T20 format. The fifty-overs World Cup has also been very successful. Cricket has a huge fan base in many countries, especially in India, which is a key market for the Olympic movement. If approved, cricket will be a part of the Olympics for the first time since 1900,” Bach said in a press conference after the two-day meeting of the executive board.
Cricket was last played in the Olympics in 1900 when only two teams – Great Britain and France – participated. Great Britain won the gold medal by defeating France by 158 runs. Since then, cricket has never been part of the Olympic program, despite several attempts by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other stakeholders.
The inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics is seen as a major boost for the sport’s global expansion and recognition. It is also expected to increase the revenue and viewership of the Olympic Games, as India is one of the largest markets for broadcasting rights. According to a British newspaper report, currently, Olympic broadcasting rights in India are based on individual games, and their market value is said to be around 2 million dollars. However, market experts believe that if India’s cricket matches are included, this figure can easily be many times higher.
The ICC welcomed the IOC’s approval and said that it would work closely with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and the IOC to ensure a successful delivery of cricket in the 2028 Games. The ICC also said that it would finalize the format, qualification process, and schedule of cricket in consultation with its members and stakeholders.
The other four sports that have been approved for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics are also expected to attract new audiences and enhance the diversity of the Olympic program. Baseball softball is a popular sport in America and Japan, flag football is a variant of American football that is played without helmets or pads, lacrosse (sixes) is a fast-paced team sport that originated from Native American tribes, and squash is a racket sport that is played in a four-walled court.
The IOC session on Sunday will vote on these five sports and also on other important matters such as the host city for the 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the future of e-sports in the Olympics, and the reforms in the Olympic Charter.