The T20 format of cricket has been officially included in the programme for Los Angeles Olympics 2028 with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voting on Monday to include the men’s and women’s competitions along with four others in the roster for LA Games.
The announcement is special for several reasons. It comes during the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023 being hosted by India and has been made at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai which marks the return of the prestigious gathering to India after a gap of 40 years.
The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board had last week approved the proposal of Los Angeles Games organisers to include the sport in the programme. Apart from cricket, which will be played in T20 format for among men’s and women’s teams, four other sports — baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes) and squash — also got the nod on Monday.
IOC President Thomas Bach had said last week that the inclusion of cricket and four other sports — only for the Los Angeles Games 2028 — was in line with the American sports culture and will also felicitate the Olympic movement to engage with new athletes and fan communities in the US as well as globally.
“We see growing popularity of cricket, particularly the T20 format. The World Cup (50 overs) is a huge success already,” Bach had said during the media briefing after the conclusion of the two-day Executive Board meeting on October 13.
Cricket’s shortest format along with baseball-softball, lacrosse (sixes), squash and flag football are the five sports approved only for the Los Angeles Games in 2028. Cricket will be a part of the Olympics for the first time since 1900.
The Los Angeles Games organising committee had proposed a six-team event, in both men’s and women’s T20 cricket, with the United States set to field sides as the host nation. But, final decisions on the number of teams and qualification system will be taken later.
“We will work with the ICC as we do in all sports. We are not working with different national franchises here, we are working with respective international federations and looking forward to receiving their ideas (as to) how to use this inclusion in the Olympic programme to make cricket even more popular across the globe,” IOC president Bach had said.
He was of the view that the global audience of Olympic sports may not necessarily have had the opportunity to engage with cricket’s fan and athlete community. “It is an opportunity to engage with the fan and athlete community, to which we have had so far very little or no access. We see how one can enrich the other,” Bach said.
Cricket is a big-ticket item for the IOC. The sport is expected to raise broadcast revenue from India by at least $100 million when the country’s favorite sport joins the Olympics.