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Hello and welcome to the 13th episode of Sports Business Updates, my weekly podcast covering the biggest news from the sports business sector in India and rest of the world. In this week’s episode I will shine a light on a very interesting topic and that is ‘Will Cricket be an Olympic sport in 2028’ and also role back the years when Cricket was a part of International multi-sport events dated all the way back to the Olympics in the year 1900!
So, let’s get into the details……
Before I begin talking about the prospect of Cricket being a part of the LA 2028 Olmpics letme tell you a bit more about when Cricket was played outside it’s traditional boundaries:
The year 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. I remember India had sent a second string team, led by Ajay Jadeja, and that was only because of the clash between Sahara Cup in Toronto and the Common wealth Games. India did send their version of their dream team of Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, and VVS Laxman and others.
We now jump into the future, 2022 Commonweathe Games, Birmingham. Eight women’s teams will teams will be competing in the T20 format.
But was Cricket played prior to 1998 at any global multi-sport event? According to IANS, Cricket has been played at the Olympics, Yes, you heard right! The only time cricket was played was in the year 1900 (121 years ago), when a group of players competed as England and France. England won the gold medal and France the silver.
Now moving to the question at the beginning of the podcast – Will Cricket be an Olympic sport, again? A serious one and not at the level of the 1900 Olympics.
It has been reported that ICC has cited the Indian subcontinent’s enormous cricket reach, 92 per cent of the one billion global cricket audience, in its push for the sport’s inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
According to the ICC proposal document available with IANS, it is believed that the 2019 World Cup in Englad was the benchmark and here are some eye popping numbers that were thrown in the proposal:
The document starts with the reach for the 2019 World Cup, held in England. It attracted 545 million fans.
In terms of the viewership and engagement numbers
- The World Cup racked up 4.6 billion video views
- 3.5 billion minutes watched across Facebook and YouTube
- 31 million #CWC10 tweets
- 14 million new followers of cricket
If you compare these figures with those of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. According to official records, The Rio 2016 attracted 191 million viewers in India. ICC World Cup 2019 attracted 545 million.
All these numbers are fine and they speak volumes about the popularity of Cricket BUT what about the infrastructure and the status of the game as an Olympic sport?
In my opinion, the timing for inclusion of Cricket in the LAOC proposal for 2028 is perfectly poised with USA Cricket planning to lauch a T20 Cricket league with a lot of big name investors having shown interest and some of them like Shahrukh Khan and a few other Silicon Valley stalwarts completely vested in the league after understanding the demand for the Cricket in the country.
The proposed T20 league will hopefully have a couple of franchises on the West coast in LA and San Francisco, so, the issue of having infrastructure ready is out of the question.
As things stand Cricket faces a tough test to be included in LA 2028 Olympic Games. It is important to note that cricket is presently not part of the Olympic programme, the Los Angeles Local Organising Committee (LOC) will have to propose it as an “additional sport”.
The other area of concern is that Cricket will be competing with two popular sports Baseball and Softball. This means heavy lobbying amongst the IOC members will be required to push the proposal through.
Lets talk a bit about that – Currently the global Cricketing body has 104 members, 12 countries are full members and 92 associate members. This in itself can be a strong count for the lobbying process.
The IANS report has highlighted that ICC estimates that $13 million additional total funding could come to associate members if cricket was included in LA28, and that 84 per cent of its members (54 per cent currently) would benefit from non-financial support if cricket were an Olympic sport.
What happens next
The process for inclusion of sports in LA28 begins in mid-2022. The International Olympic Committee will take a decision on the LOC’s proposals for inclusion of sports in mid-2023.
Cricket has a strong case to be included in the Olympics and boost the viewership of the event. I hope the sport gets a chance to show the world it’s popularity and its good governance at global level and hopefully a Gold medal for India in LA28.
This brings us to the end of the 13th episode of the podcast. Don’t forget to share my podcast with your friends and colleagues. You can listen to all the episodes of Sports Business Updates on Spotify, Anchor, Google and Apple Podcasts.
You can access more sports business news and infographics on my website sportsnexus.co.
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Once again, I would like to thank you for listening to Sports Business Updates. Have a great week ahead and I’ll look forward to sharing another new episode of Sports Business Updates with you next week. Bye!!!