BCCI ready to take the Olympics plunge
Indian cricket board secretary Jay Shah confirms their support for cricket’s Olympic entry in 2028.
From a solitary two-day fixture between Great Britain and France in the 1900 Olympics, prospects of cricket’s inclusion as an 8-team medal sport for men and women in Los Angeles 2028 have brightened.
The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s proposal to introduce cricket as an Olympic sport in 2028 has been placed before the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Importantly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s reluctance to join the Olympic movement is now a thing of the past. “Once cricket is added in the Olympics, India will be participating,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said. “The BCCI and the ICC are on the same page as far as participation in the Olympics is concerned.”
The BCCI in its Apex Council meeting in April had given a conditional nod to send a team for the 2028 edition if its autonomy wasn’t disturbed and there was no interference from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The BCCI, IOA and government though are working in sync. The Indian cricket board pledged Rs. 10 crore to assist the Tokyo bound Indian contingent’s marketing budget. They also announced a cash prize totalling Rs. 4 crore for the seven medal winners on Saturday.
The ICC, which has 92 Associate members but only 12 members play Test cricket, has been slow on the Olympics issue. Many of the top Test nations have in the past have had an insular view of safeguarding their playing window and TV rights revenue and resisting cricket’s entry into Olympics. Now, with an agreement amongst most leading cricket boards, it has been in constant talks with IOC and an Olympics committee formed for the purpose.
With a nudge from the government to increase India’s medal prospects, BCCI administration has also switched its stance. “The BCCI is more than happy to work together with the government and help increase India’s medal chances,” a BCCI official said.
Cricket has been added as a discipline in the 2022 Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, July-Aug). There’s cricket in the 2022 Asian Games (Hangzhou, September) too. With the cricket calendar congested with ICC events, bilateral cricket and franchise leagues, finding a window for each of these games consistently may become a challenge. That is why, the Commonwealth Games will only have women’s cricket. The Olympics, it is learnt, will require the participation of men and women.
T20 has emerged as the format of choice despite some Associate nations championing for introducing T10. The English cricket board has explored the prospects of taking the Hundred-ball format to the Olympics, riding on its newly launched league. With neither format having international status, ICC is expected to start with T20Is.
While introduction of a new sport at Olympics involves structured presentations and lobbying, those in cricket are confident that India’s rapidly growing consumer market and digital engagement base will marry IOC’s search for new Olympic markets.
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