Mumbai, Oct 16 (Ajit Weekly News) Cricket in the Twenty20 format will return to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1900 when Los Angeles hosts the mega event in 2028.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday gave its final approval for the inclusion of T20 cricket as an additional sport in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
The 141st Session of IOC in Mumbai gave unanimous approval for the inclusion of five additional sports — cricket, squash, baseball and softball, flag football and lacrosse — in the sports programme of the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Los Angeles will host cricket as a six-team competition for each gender with the host nation confirmed as one of the teams. As of now, the other five teams will be picked based on the ICC T20I Rankings at a pre-decided cut-off date.
On Monday only two of the 99 members in Mumbai for the IOC Session opposed the move while two more abstained from the vote, making it a near-unanimous approval for the package to be included in the 2028 Olympic Games.
The members did express concern over the limited exposure to these sports by the majority of the IOC members and also the impact of these additional sports on the overall quota of participating sportspersons. The IOC session was informed that the inclusion of these five sports will take the total number of participants to 11.092 as against the 10,500 that the IOC would like to limit to.
The Session was informed that the IOC’s Sports Programme Commission will sit down with the International Federation related to the additional sports and the traditional sports to bring down the number.
Casey Wasserman, the LA28 chairperson, said LA 28 was on its way to being the “most compelling” Olympics. “We are excited to embark on game-changing collaborations with major professional leagues that will unlock massive opportunities to amplify the Olympic and Paralympic story, and captivate new audiences,” Wasserman said during his presentation in the 141st IOC Session.
He said cricket would be a catalyst for the Olympics programme in the United States and felt that it sets well with their philosophy for the Los Angeles Olympic Games, which wants to promote the American system of team sports.
Niccolo Campriani, the sports director of the LA 2028 Organising Committee, said they were influenced by the fact that cricket in the T20 format is the second-fastest growing sport in the country and was an opportunity for the Olympics movement to spread to new markets.
“We are thrilled to welcome the world’s second-most popular sport with an estimated 2.5 billion fans worldwide,” Campriani said.
“Some of you might be wondering why in LA? Well, the commitment to grow cricket in the US is real, and it’s already happening with the launch of the very first Major League Cricket season earlier this year, which exceeded all expectations. And the (men’s) T20 World Cup in 2024 coming to the US and West Indies.”
Campriani also listed the popularity of cricket by talking about the popularity of India’s Virat Kohli on social media.
“Think (about) my friend here Virat (Kohli). He’s the third-most followed athlete in the world on social media with 314 million followers. That’s more than LeBron James, Tom Brady and Tiger Woods combined. This is the ultimate win-win for LA 28,” Campriani added.
The Chairman of the ICC Board of Directors, Greg Barclay and the IOC member from India, Nita M Ambani, who owns franchise teams that play in T20 leagues in India, South Africa and the United States welcomed the move by ICC and said it is an opportunity for cricket to use the Olympics platform to further promote the game to all corners of the world.
“Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympic Games has been a priority for our organisation, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase our great sport and athletes at the LA28 Games, and hopefully many Olympic Games to come,” Barclay said, adding T20 is the fastest growing format of the game.
–Ajit Weekly News
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