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Cricket to make a historic comeback at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics

Cricket’s long-awaited Olympic return

Cricket, one of the most popular sports in the world, is set to make a historic comeback at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics after a 128-year hiatus. The sport was last played at the 1900 Paris Games, where a two-day match was held between Britain and France. Since then, cricket has been absent from the Olympic program, despite several attempts to revive it.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of the sport, has been lobbying for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics for years, but faced resistance from some of its most powerful members, such as India and England, who feared losing revenue and prestige from their bilateral series. However, in recent years, the ICC has managed to overcome these hurdles and gain unanimous support from its 105 members for cricket’s Olympic bid.

The ICC’s efforts paid off when the Los Angeles organizing committee proposed cricket to be included along with four other sports – baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash – for the 2028 Games. The proposal is expected to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week in Mumbai, where the 141st IOC Session is scheduled to take place.

“We are delighted that LA28 have recommended cricket for inclusion in the Olympics,” ICC chair Greg Barclay said. “Whilst this is not the final decision, it is a very significant landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.”

Cricket to make a historic comeback at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics

Cricket’s Olympic format and benefits

Cricket, both men’s and women’s, will be played under the three-hour T20 format, which is the shortest and most exciting version of the game. It is expected that there will be six or eight teams per gender, with qualification criteria to be decided later. Cricket will be played at a venue in Southern California, which has a large and diverse cricket fan base.

Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics will bring many benefits to the sport and its stakeholders. It will boost cricket’s global exposure and popularity, especially in new and emerging markets like the USA, China and Japan. It will also attract more funding and sponsorship opportunities for cricket development and infrastructure. Moreover, it will inspire more young people to take up the sport and aspire to represent their countries at the highest level.

Cricket’s Olympic return will also align with the sport’s push to penetrate the American sports market, which is dominated by baseball, basketball and football. Major League Cricket (MLC), America’s new professional league, made a revenue of $8 million in its debut season and has plans to expand its franchise and fan base. The USA Cricket team has also qualified for next year’s T20 World Cup, which will feature matches in New York, Dallas and Florida.

“Olympic inclusion at the Los Angeles Games was targeted by cricket chiefs with the sport continuing its push into the world’s biggest sports market,” Barclay said. “We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games and we know LA28 are committed to delivering an unforgettable experience.”

Cricket’s Olympic history and challenges

Cricket has a long but sporadic history with the Olympics. The sport was part of the original modern Olympic Games in 1896, but was cancelled due to lack of entries. Four years later, it made its only appearance at the 1900 Paris Games, where Britain defeated France by 158 runs in a two-day match that was largely ignored by the media and spectators.

Cricket was also scheduled to be played at the 1904 St. Louis Games, but was dropped due to logistical issues. In 1912, cricket was considered for inclusion at the Stockholm Games, but was rejected due to lack of interest from other countries. In 1920, cricket was again proposed for inclusion at the Antwerp Games, but was vetoed by Belgium.

Since then, cricket has been absent from the Olympic program, despite several attempts to revive it. In 1996, cricket was recognized as an Olympic sport by the IOC, but failed to meet the criteria for inclusion. In 2008, cricket was shortlisted for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but withdrew its bid due to lack of consensus among its members. In 2016, cricket was again shortlisted for inclusion at the 2024 Paris Games, but missed out on the final cut.

Cricket’s Olympic return will not be without challenges. The sport will have to compete with other established and popular sports for attention and resources. It will also have to balance its busy international calendar and ensure that its top players are available and willing to participate in the Olympics. Moreover, it will have to deal with issues such as doping, match-fixing and corruption that have plagued the sport in recent years.

However, despite these challenges, cricket’s Olympic return is a momentous occasion for the sport and its fans. It will mark a new era of growth and innovation for cricket and showcase its diversity and dynamism to a global audience. It will also fulfill a long-held dream of many cricket legends and enthusiasts who have advocated for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics for decades.

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