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Cricket’s Olympic comeback: What it means for the sport and its fans

Cricket returns to Olympics after 128 years

Cricket will be part of the Olympic Games for the first time since 1900, when it was played at the Paris Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has formally ratified the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, following a proposal from the LA Organizing Committee. Cricket will be played in the T20 format, with eight men’s and eight women’s teams competing for the gold medals.

The decision to include cricket in the Olympics is a historic one, as it will showcase the sport to a global audience of more than three billion viewers across TV and digital platforms. It will also create new opportunities for cricket to expand its fan base and participation in new regions and markets. The IOC has praised cricket for its inclusivity, gender equality and popularity, which align with the Olympic values and vision.

Cricket stars and officials welcome the Olympic inclusion

The confirmation of cricket’s Olympic inclusion has been met with excitement and enthusiasm by some of the greats of the game, as well as the officials and administrators of the sport. Mithali Raj, former India captain and all-time leading female run scorer, said: “It is so exciting that cricket is now an Olympic sport and will make its return at LA28. Cricket is one of the most loved sports globally, and the second most watched. For 1.4 billion Indians, cricket is not just a sport, it’s a religion!”

Cricket’s Olympic comeback: What it means for the sport and its fans

Virat Kohli, current India captain and one of the most influential cricketers in the world, also expressed his support for cricket’s Olympic bid, stating that it would be a great opportunity for the sport to grow and reach new heights. He said: “I think it should be part of the Olympics. It would be amazing for the game of cricket. It would spread all over the world, which is what we want.”

ICC Chairman Greg Barclay said: “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.”

Nita Ambani, an IOC member and a proud Indian cricket fan, said: “As an IOC member, a proud Indian, and an ardent cricket fan, I am delighted that IOC members have voted to include Cricket as an Olympic Sport in the LA Summer Olympics 2028! The inclusion of cricket in the Olympics will create deeper engagement for the Olympic Movement in newer geographies. And at the same time, provides a boost to cricket’s growing international popularity.”

Cricket’s Olympic journey and challenges

Cricket has only featured in one previous edition of the Olympics, in 1900, when only two teams took part: Great Britain and France. Great Britain won the gold medal by defeating France by 158 runs in a two-day match. Since then, cricket has not been part of the Olympic Games, mainly due to lack of interest from some of the major cricketing nations, such as England, Australia and India.

However, in recent years, there has been a renewed push for cricket’s Olympic inclusion, especially from some of the emerging cricket nations, such as Ireland, Afghanistan and Nepal. The ICC has also led a proposal and expansive two-year process for cricket to be added to the Olympic Games programme, with LA28 also recommending its inclusion to the IOC last week.

One of the main challenges for cricket’s Olympic participation is scheduling, as it will have to fit into a busy international calendar that already includes various bilateral series, World Cups and domestic leagues. Another challenge is ensuring that all the top players are available and willing to represent their countries at the Olympics, rather than opting for lucrative contracts elsewhere.

However, these challenges are not insurmountable, as other sports such as football and tennis have shown. With proper planning and coordination among all stakeholders, cricket can make its Olympic comeback a successful and memorable one.

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