Men's and women's T20 cricket makes it to Los Angeles Olympics 2028
If approved by the IOC session, which seems highly likely, cricket will be part of the Olympics for the first time since 1900
Cricket is all set to feature in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board on Friday approved a proposal by of the organisers to include the sport in the programme.
Apart from cricket, which will be played in T20 format for men and women, four other sports — baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes) and squash — also received a green signal from the IOC executive board which met in Mumbai with president Thomas Bach in the chair.
The proposal will be put to vote during the IOC session which begins in Mumbai on Sunday. If cricket's inclusion is approved by the IOC session, it will represent a boost for India's medal hopes at the 2028 Olympics as one of the powerhouses of the sport.
Bach said the inclusion of these five sports only for Los Angeles 2028 was in line with the American sports culture and will also enable the Olympic movement to engage with new athletes and fan communities in the US as well as globally.
"The IOC had to take three different decisions. (The) first was about the proposal of the Los Angeles organising committee to introduce five new sports. These five sports are baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes), squash and cricket," Bach said during a media briefing at the end of the two-day bvoard meeting in Mumbai on Friday.
"We see growing popularity of cricket, particularly the T20 format. The World Cup (50 overs) is a huge success already," he added.
The Los Angeles Olympics 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.
"The proposal from LA was six teams per sport in each of the team sports (that) they have put forward for both men and women, underlying gender equality across the overall package," said IOC's director of sports Kit McConnell.
"Now, that number as we mentioned earlier if it is confirmed by the session to be in the programme, all of those athlete numbers would be confirmed along with the sports," he said.
"No detailed discussions regarding that (qualification). Those are finalised around 2025 as well, normally the host country is one of the teams and then we look at the balance of the global strength and regional representation," McConnell added.
Bach also said the IOC is still in proposal mode as far as it was deciding about the number of teams and qualification. "We are still in the proposal mode. We will first need the word of the (IOC) session in the coming days," Bach said.
Cricket's shortest format along with baseball-softball, lacrosse (sixes), squash and flag football are the five sports proposed only for the Los Angeles games in 2028. If approved, which seems highly likely, cricket will be part of the Olympics for the first time since 1900.
"Baseball/softball, cricket (T20), flag football, lacrosse (sixes) and squash are the five sports submitted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s Executive Board (EB) to the upcoming IOC Session as additional sports for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 (LA28)," the IOC said in a statement.
"These additional sports were proposed by the LA28 Organising Committee, for its edition of the Games only, and were reviewed by the Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) before being put forward to the EB."
Bach said the IOC was looking forward to working with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to expand the sport beyond its traditional bases. "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," he said.
"This is a win-win situation. The Olympic games will give cricket a global stage and the opportunity to grow beyond the traditional cricket countries and regions, with the Olympic movement," Bach added.
The IOC president 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.
"In India, where you see the growing Olympic spirit, a number of Olympic sports gaining strength and becoming popular and cricket still being the no. 1 sport and the most popular sport," he said, adding that convincing the IOC executive board to give its nod to cricket did not require too much effort.
McConnell said the IOC was satisfied with the ICC as far as their compliance with the anti-doping regulations are concerned. "The importance of the ICC is that it is the governing body of cricket, (as) the international federation of cricket. The ICC is code-compliant," he said.
"We are comfortable with the situation of the ICC in terms of their compliance with the international anti-doping regulations and as we move towards the Games, we will continue to work in more detail regarding that. Yes, in terms of compliance, the ICC is fully compliant with the necessary regulations."
McConnell added that with the addition of new sports, including cricket which is also a team sport, the number of athletes at the LA Games 2028 will increase from the desired number of 10,500. But as far as cricket is concerned, the number of teams will be finalised by January 2025 as the IOC is looking at having six teams per gender.
"With the package put forward and the team sports, it is clear that we will need to go over the (limit of) 10,500. How far we go (is something that) we obviously have to discuss. The athlete quotas will be finalised at the start of 2025 when we finalise the event programme," McConnell said.