A hat trick, but of a different kind, is what has the cricketing world abuzz, welcoming fruitful outcomes from the 141st International Olympic Committee (IOC) session. The prestigious gathering returned to India for the first time in 40 years, and fittingly, a landmark decision on cricket has been made on the soil that has produced global cricketing icons.
The IOC’s executive board had approved the proposal from Los Angeles Games organizers to include cricket in the program, and this decision was put to a vote. On October 16, 2023, cricket, along with four other sports, was officially added to the program for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
Reacting to this development, former India skipper Mithali Raj commented, “It is so exciting that cricket is now an Olympic sport and will make its return at LA28. Players will get the chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal and be part of the games which will be so special. It’s also a chance for more fans around the world to enjoy our fantastic sport.”
🚨 JUST IN 🚨
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) October 16, 2023
Cricket makes its comeback to the Games after a hiatus of over a century, following its single appearance at the 1900 Olympics. In the 2028 Olympics, the sport will feature six teams competing in the Twenty20 format for both men and women and the United States of America will be fielding teams as the host nation. However, the final decisions regarding the number of teams and qualifications are set for later.
Following cricket’s return to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and the Asian Games in 2023, the sport has been voted for inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, completing a hat-trick of re-inclusions as the International Cricket Council (ICC) continues its drive for the true globalization of the sport.
It is on the back of an expansive 2-year process, that the ICC succeeded in its bid to have Cricket played at the Games. ICC Chairman Greg Barclay said, as quoted by an ICC statement, “We are thrilled that cricket’s inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games has been confirmed by the IOC Session today. To have the opportunity to showcase our great sport at the LA28 Games and hopefully, many Olympic Games to come will be great for players and fans alike.”
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The Indian women’s cricket team secured a Silver medal in the inaugural women’s cricket event at the Commonwealth Games, marking the sport’s return after a 24-year hiatus. Building on this success, the women in blue achieved a higher accolade at the recently concluded Asian Games, where the sport returned for the first time since 2014. Looking ahead, the Indian skipper has already set her sights on winning an Olympic Gold in 2028.
While the participation of Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur in LA28 seems unlikely, she remains optimistic about India replicating their 2022 Asian Games success. Quoting Harmanpreet Kaur, “We all got very excited the moment we got to know at the next Olympics that we can also be part of it. I think all the members and team, we all are really looking forward to that. Hope, the way we performed in the Asian Games, we will perform the same way at the Olympics also.”
Cricket at the Olympic Games is a win-win for all involved, from fans to broadcasters to the IOC. The sport is expected to boost broadcast revenue from India by at least $100 million when the nation’s most popular sport returns to the Olympics in 2028.