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Olympics debut to be a game-changer for cricket


Olympics debut to be a game-changer for cricket


NEW DELHI : Cricket fans worldwide have a reason to celebrate as the sport will debut at the LA Olympics in 2028. This is also expected to attract new cricket enthusiasts and promote global infrastructure development for the sport, apart from having a significant economic impact, said experts.

Team India is poised to play a crucial role as one of the six teams representing cricket at the 2028 Olympics. To make this a reality, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, is collaborating with the International Cricket Council (ICC). Over the last two years, ICC developed a proposal to facilitate this inclusion. However, it also entails mandatory doping tests for the Men in Blue.

The Olympic Games, with an estimated 3 billion viewers across TV and digital, offers an unparalleled opportunity for cricket to shine on the global stage and potentially reach a wider audience.

Cricket is the most popular sport in the Indian subcontinent and a few other South Asian countries, but it doesn’t rank among the top two sports even for many cricket-playing nations.

Besides, of late, a significant number of younger fans have shifted away from the 50-over One Day International format, leading to the rise of the T20 format. The ICC has also been working to enhance the sport’s popularity globally. As a part of its efforts it is hosting the upcoming T20 World Cup in US and West Indies. “We are thrilled that cricket’s inclusion in LA28 Olympic Games was confirmed by the IOC Session today. To have an opportunity to showcase our great sport at the LA28 Games and hopefully many Olympic Games to come will be great for the players as well as the fans,” ICC chairman Greg Barclay said.

Cricket’s last appearance in the Olympic was in 1900, featuring two teams. The reintegration in the Olympic movement holds the potential to add new regions and enhance its international appeal, said IOC member Nita M. Ambani.

Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah has lauded the development for its potential to unlock new horizons. “The board anticipates that this will yield significant financial dividends. It will have a profound positive impact on the sport’s ecosystem. It will fuel infrastructural development, intensify competition, foster youth development, and create opportunities for officials, volunteers, and skilled professionals.”

Joy Bhattacharjya, a cricket writer and sports broadcaster, hailed the decision, likening it to ICC’s success in popularizing T20 cricket format, which expanded the sport’s footprint attracting new, younger fans and markets.

“With this move, the Olympic Association wants to see how popular the sport will become when introduced at that level, which is good. It could prove to be as important as what ICC did when it made T20 an international competition. Team India will also have to sign up with the World Anti Doping Agency to become complaint within the next four years,” he said.

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Updated: 16 Oct 2023, 10:42 PM IST


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