Cricket is dubbed as the second most popular sport worldwide. It is extremely famous in countries like India, Pakistan, Australia, Wales, and many more. It is estimated that cricket has over 2.2 billion followers and with this, it’s a bit questionable why this sport is nowhere to be seen in the Olympics. The Olympics have over 30 games and too many, it doesn’t make sense why the second most popular sport isn’t part of it.
Well, it’s not like cricket has never been a part of The Olympics but the sport’s journey in this prestigious event is uneventful. Originally, cricket was to be included in the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Athens that took place in 1896. However, it didn’t end up pushing through because there was a lack of participants. On the next Olympics that took place in Paris, however, cricket has finally made its debut but it didn’t seem to get a lot of attention. That was the last time that the sport was ever seen in the Olympics.
Cricket may not have been that popular back in the day but things are different now. Sure, this sport still hasn’t penetrated big countries like the United States but even if this is the case, it still has a lot of followers all over the world. Many people would check out sites like betastic.com to know which casinos and bookies have odds on cricket every time a major league is on like the Indian Premier League. With the current status of cricket, it’s just right that the International Cricket Council (ICC) is finally pushing for the inclusion of this sport in the 2028 LA Olympics (LA28).
What Was the Struggle Anyway and Why Now is a Good Time?
Despite Cricket being popular in many countries, it just hasn’t made a huge impact yet on countries where the Olympics is popular. The countries that hosted the previous multi-sport competitions are not cricket nations and this is why it was hard for cricket to be previously included.
Aside from this, cricket’s traditional format also made it hard to facilitate during the span of the Olympics. Before the T20 format was just the ODIs and an ODI with a total of 100 overs can last up to 8 hours. Therefore, the duration of the ODIs could just disturb the duration of the Olympics especially if a significant number of teams will participate.
With how cricket works, exclusive grounds will also be necessary. And so, even looking for venues could be difficult. Another hurdle is how busy the international cricket calendar is. Countries where this sport is popular usually have a packed schedule throughout the year schedule will also have to be strategic or well-planned.
Another major factor is how the ICC didn’t really want governments to be too involved in handling the cricket industry. They wanted to make sure that cricket events are of quality and if cricket makes it to the Olympics, the government will have to step in. This was back then, however, since the ICC has already announced that they are now making efforts to bring cricket back to the Olympics.
The ICC’s Campaign for Cricket Inclusion
Part of ICC’s argument on why cricket should be part of the LA28 is the Indian subcontinent’s enormous reach of 92 percent of the one billion global cricket audience. They have underlined that if LA29 will embrace the sport, it would provide the Olympic movement an unrivaled opportunity to drive fan engagement from countries where cricket is popular.
They also stressed that the 2019 World Cup alone that was held in England attracted over 545 million fans. The same event garnered a total of 4.6 billion views, 3.5 billion minutes of Facebook and Twitter views, and over 31 million tweets. The 2019 World Cup has also brought in 14 million new followers for the sport during its course.
“Cricket can provide the Olympic movement with an unrivaled opportunity to drive fan engagement across the Asian subcontinent. The Olympics can provide cricket with an unrivaled opportunity to super-charge global growth beyond its traditional heartlands, particularly in the US, Europe, and China,” the ICC said.
ICC’s proposal states that the T20 tournament at LA28 could run from July 21 to August 6. Men’s and women’s competitions will run for nine days each. A total of eight teams will participate in 16 matches. Each event can be played on turf/hybrid pitches with just two venues.
While the ICC is already making efforts to include the sport, it may not be an easy road as it will have to compete with other sports that are also looking for a spot at the Olympics like baseball and softball. Both sports are popular in the US and so it will be tough. However, there’s still hope because USA Cricket has also been working on creating more impact in the country. With regard to venues, they are also planning to build at least one venue in LA.