The International Cricket Council (ICC) Tuesday announced that it will organize a bid to have the sport added to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics program.
ICC Chair Greg Barclay said “Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future. We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics.”
The ICC has assembled a high level working group chaired by English Cricket Board Chief Ian Watmore with former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and USA Cricket chief Parag Marathe.
The ICC is hoping to make the list of host-selected sports to be chosen by the LA 2028 organizing committee. At the Tokyo 2020 Games six locally popular sports were chosen including baseball and softball, karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing – but these sports are not guaranteed to remain on the program for subsequent Games.
As it turns out, Paris elected to add skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing for the 2024 edition – but declined to include baseball and softball due to lack of interest and venues for the sport across France. But locally significant breakdancing – to be known as ‘breaking’ – will be staged at those Games for the first time.
Baseball and softball will almost certainly return to the LA 2028 Games, one of the world’s epicenters for those sports, rich with venues and tradition.
Additionally lacrosse, American flag football and karate are also vying to be added in 2028 – all sports that are locally significant.
Cricket is a wildly popular sport in South Asia and interest is growing in other areas, including the United States. The ICC claims there are already over 30 million cricket fans in the U.S. and more than 1 billion globally.
“Clearly cricket has a strong and passionate fanbase, particularly in South Asia where 92 percent of our fans come from whilst there are also 30 million cricket fans in the USA,” Barclay said.
“The opportunity for those fans to see their heroes competing for an Olympic medal is tantalizing.”
“With so many passionate cricket fans and players already in the USA, and a huge global audience and following for the sport around the world, we believe that cricket’s inclusion will add great value to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games,” Marathe said.
Cricket has only been featured at the Paris 1900 Games when a single match was staged with Great Britain defeating France for the championship. The sport campaigned for inclusion at the Paris 2024 Games but failed to make the program.
Infrastructure currently exists in Southern California to support the sport, including cricket pitches that could be fitted with temporary grandstands, or baseball stadiums that could be modified to host cricket.
But cricket’s inclusion in 2028 remains a longshot if you consider that the return of team sports baseball and softball are almost a certainty and there are strict limits on the number of athletes that can attend the Games. With at least 15 players on each squad, LA 2028 could pass on adding the third team sport just to keep the numbers down.
“We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same,” Barclay said.
“But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics are.”
What is clear is that cricket’s primary target is the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games. The Australian city that has a strong link to the sport was awarded the Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just ahead of the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony. To prepare for the Olympics, the city’s historic cricket ground known at The Gabba is set to receive a AUD $1 billion refurbishment.
Cricket’s campaign for 2028 inclusion will help solidify its likely presence at the Australian Olympics.
LA 2028 could nominate the additional sports to its program next year with a formal request to the IOC’s Executive Board. Once approved, the full IOC membership will vote to confirm.