Cricket on Track to Return to Olympics, Despite One Roadblock
In an exciting development for cricket enthusiasts, the sport is set to make a potential comeback at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board is reportedly considering the inclusion of men’s and women’s T20 cricket as a new Olympic sport. The inclusion would end a 128 year hiatus, cricket’s last appearance in the was back in 1900 when it featured as a demonstration sport during the Paris Games.
This decision comes as no surprise, considering the immense and growing popularity of cricket in Asian countries especially India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, which are nations not typically as engaged in the Olympic scene. This would provide the ability to attract a larger global audience. World Cricket currently has annual revenues estimated at US$2.8 billion. The Indian Premier League (IPL) currently stands as the undisputed jewel in the cricketing crown. The IPL’s media rights for the 2023-2027 cycle shattered records, fetching a staggering US$6.2 billion. This represents a 200% surge in revenue from the preceding broadcast cycle.
IOC President Thomas Bach, recognises its mass appeal and is said to be a vocal proponent of bringing cricket into the Olympics. With the addition of cricket, the organisers hope to make the 2028 Games even more captivating and memorable.
However, there is one peculiar condition set by the Los Angeles Olympics organisers. They are willing to welcome cricket only if flag football, a non-contact version of American football, is also included in the Games. This requirement highlights the growing diversity of sports in the Olympics, as seen in recent editions, with an increased number of disciplines such as golf, 3×3 basketball, BMX, karate, rugby sevens, baseball, softball, skateboarding, surfing, and speed climbing.
Notably, T20 cricket has already gained a glimpse of its Olympic potential at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The eight-team women’s tournament showcased thrilling matches, culminating in Australia’s gold medal victory over India by nine runs. New Zealand also secured a bronze medal after defeating England by eight wickets.
While the final decision regarding cricket’s inclusion in the Olympic Games is pending, the prospect of witnessing the sport’s return on such a grand stage has ignited excitement among cricket fans worldwide. It remains to be seen if this roadblock can be overcome, paving the way for cricket to be once again embraced by the Olympic movement.