The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently released its first market research project which reveals that the sport has over one billion fans across the globe. This research is a stepping stone for the ICC to support its demands of being an Olympic worthy sport. Cricket’s sole appearance at the multi-sport was in the 1900 games in Paris.
The buzz about efforts of the ICC to include the sport in the Olympics for some time now. ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson hopes that Cricket can make it to the 2028 Los Angeles Games. “It’s going to take a bit of time. We have already missed the deadline to apply to IOC through the front door to get the right to participate (in the 2024 Olympics),” Richardson was quoted by the PTI in April.
The popularity of the shortest format and the compression of the game into three hours are strong points for its inclusion. According to the research, 87% of respondents want the high-powered T20 format to be included in the quadrennial showpiece event.
In a step to globalize the sport and strengthen their bid for the Olympics, ICC decided to give international status to all T20 matches played by its 104 members. Before this move, only T20 matches played by full and associate members were accorded international status.
BCCI’s stand on inclusion in the Olympics
With the biggest coffers amongst all the international cricket boards, the BCCI wields significant power in the ICC’s decision-making process. BCCI has been known to oppose the inclusion of cricket in the most watched and anticipated sporting event on the globe.
BCCI is very very organized when it comes down to protecting its autonomy. The inclusion in the Olympics means that the sport will come under the ambit of Indian Olympic Association (IOA), which means the BCCI would have to share its powers with the national Olympic association. Sharing of powers is not a strong point for the BCCI as is evident with its tussle involving the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administration (CoA).
A calendar year is packed with international cricket and the summer is when T20 domestic tournaments kick off including the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL). The domestic T20 leagues might have to continue without national players if the Olympics are a go during that time. The inclusion in the Olympics means that the Future Tours Programme (FTP) would have to undergo changes leaving no room for a break in the already packed cricketing season.
The BCCI has already taken efforts to globalize the game with the two T20s played against the West Indies in the United States of America. And inclusion in the Summer Olympics would be the biggest step to globalize the game making the sport popular and richer.