Cricket is loved to the extent of madness in India. This craze will get a new boost with the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. In the 141st session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held in Mumbai, it was decided to include cricket in the Olympics along with five other sports. In this way cricket will return to the Olympics after 128 years. Cricket was also included in the Olympics held in Paris in 1900. After this decision, now cricketers will also be seen winning medals in the Olympic Games. Both the Olympic campaign and cricket are going to benefit from this decision. Cricket has about 2.5 billion fans across the world, whose association with the Olympics will strengthen the fan base of the Olympics.
Also, this will increase its revenue tremendously. Similarly, there are about three billion viewers of the Olympic Games on television and digital platforms, among whom cricket will also reach. This will give cricket an opportunity to expand its reach to areas where it currently does not have access. In true sense, cricket is very popular only in the Indian subcontinent and South Asian countries. Even in many countries playing cricket, it is not included in the first two popular sports. There is no doubt that cricket has spread its roots across the world in the last decade. In which T-20, the shortest format of cricket, has played an important role. This format has gained a lot of popularity with the organization of IPL in India. Besides, it has also started raining money.
This is the reason why today T-20 competitions like IPL have started being organized in most of the cricket playing countries. The IPL model has paved the way for cricket to be included in the Olympic campaign. In true sense, both earning and entertainment in IPL has attracted the International Olympic Committee towards this game. However, the International Cricket Committee (ICC) is also paying special attention towards spreading this game in the world. For this reason, it is jointly organizing the next T-20 World Cup in West Indies and America. America has become attracted towards this game in the last few years. The organization of Major League has been started there from this year. It seems that by 2028, cricket will have established its roots in America. Even though the decision to include cricket in the Olympics has just been taken, talks in this regard were going on between the ICC and IOC for the last two years.
In this, the role of Indian member Nita Ambani in ICC has been important. His team is Mumbai Indians in IPL. In the last two years, she was successful in convincing the Olympic community to include cricket in these games. Olympic cricket matches will be organized in the stadium built by Shahrukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders, another IPL team, in America. It is true that consensus could not be reached regarding cricket and other sports in the IOC session. But what matters is 99 votes in favor of these games and only two against them. Nicole Capriani, sports director of the Los Angeles Olympic Games Organizing Committee, is a triple Olympic medalist for Italy. Regarding the inclusion of cricket, he believes that this will give new fans to the Olympics.
Wasserman, the head of the organizing committee of these games, watched the IPL matches in 2010 and was very impressed by the income and entertainment generated in it. Therefore, when Los Angeles got the opportunity to host the Olympics, he included cricket in the 14 sports included in these games. Later the number of games was reduced to nine. Ultimately it has been decided to organize six of these games. Apart from cricket, other sports are squash, baseball, softball, lacrosse and flag football. Apart from cricket, it is only squash in which India can hope to win a medal. Cricket has been a part of the 1900 Paris Olympics. At that time only two teams – France and Britain – had participated in it. Therefore, the final was played directly between the two. The 1900 Olympic Games held in Paris lasted for six months and during this time cricket was organized for two days. A total of 366 runs were scored in the four innings played by both the teams. Britain won this match. Barely 20 spectators were present to watch this match.
In this, official recognition was given to the medal winners in 1912. There is no evidence that medals were given to the cricketers who participated in it. To make cricket a permanent part of the Olympic Games, it is important that its event in Los Angeles is successful. The event can be successful only when all the star players of the participating teams participate. To do this, ICC will have to give a window to Olympic cricket. Only in this way all the participating teams will be able to participate to the best of their ability. Otherwise, Olympic cricket may also have a situation like Asian Games cricket.
Cricket was included in the Hangzhou Asian Games. But the ICC World Cup was to be organized during this period, hence most of the teams fielded second-rate teams. To make Olympic cricket successful, it is important that the teams participating in this event are kept separate from bilateral series. The good thing is that after Los Angeles, the 2032 Olympics are to be held in Brisbane, and there is talk of India’s bid for the 2036 Olympics, and cricket is very popular in both these places. It has also been decided that only six teams will participate in the Olympics, out of which one team will be from host America. But there will be curiosity in the cricket world about what will be the selection process of other teams.
(These are the personal views of the author)