Cricket’s more than 100-year Olympic exile moved closer to ending after the sport was approved for inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Games by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.
IOC president Thomas Bach, speaking after Friday’s second day of an executive board meeting in Mumbai, said officials had accepted a proposal by LA organisers for Twenty20 cricket to be included as one of five new sports together with baseball/softball, flag football (non-contact American football), squash and lacrosse.
But the final choice of which sports are on the 2028 programme will be voted on Monday at the IOC session in Mumbai, one of the hotbeds of cricket, as India hosts the men’s 50-over Cricket World Cup.
“For the IOC, it is a great opportunity to engage with new athlete and fan communities,” said Bach.
“We see the growing popularity of T20 cricket and we look forward to welcoming the world’s best players to the US in 2028,” he added.
Los Angeles chiefs have proposed a six-team event, in both men’s and women’s T20 cricket, with the United States set to field sides as the host nation.
But no firm decision on the number of teams or how they are qualified will be taken unless and until cricket receives formal ratification on Monday.
Cricket last featured at the 1900 Paris Olympics, when a team from Britain beat a side representing France.
The sport has made moves towards a return to the Games for more than a decade, with the encouragement of the Olympic movement.
Adding cricket to the Olympic programme is an obvious move, financially speaking.
It would tap into the lucrative south Asian market, attracting fans in countries such as India and Pakistan.
T20 cricket is the sport’s shortest international format.
The Indian Premier League, featuring cricket’s global stars, has helped India become the unquestioned economic driving force of the sport, thanks to legions of fans and lucrative broadcasting deals in a nation where the game is almost a religion.
Meanwhile, the status of boxing at the 2028 Games remains uncertain after the IOC stripped the International Boxing Association of its recognition following a dispute over how the sport is governed.
Boxing has been part of every Olympics since 1920 and will feature in Paris next year.
“We want boxing on the programme,” said Bach. “We have no problem, with boxing or boxers – we have a problem with the governing body.”
Bach says ‘only 10 countries’ can stage Winter Olympics
Only 10 countries are now capable of staging an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games under existing criteria due to climate change, according to Bach.
Natural snow is in increasingly short supply in some regions due to rising temperatures, with a lack of available water for snow-making threatening the existence of the global snow-sport industry.
Bach, speaking at a press conference following the second day of an IOC executive board meeting in Mumbai, said a preliminary study by the IOC’s future host commission had found that by 2040 only 10 nations would be able to host the snow events of an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“By 2040, there remain, practically, just 10 National Olympic Committees who could host these snow events of the Olympic Winter Games,” Bach said.
“From these numbers it becomes even clearer that we need to address very quickly this dramatic impact of climate change on winter sport in the Winter Games.”
Bach added that in response to the commission’s findings, the IOC executive board had approved a proposal to allow a double allocation of two successive Winter Games in 2030 and 2034 during next year’s session in Paris.
IOC chiefs had hoped to award the 2030 Winter Olympics during a Mumbai session starting on Sunday, which is being preceded by the ongoing executive board gathering.
But problems regarding potential hosts have delayed the IOC’s plans, with longstanding 2030 favourite Sapporo officially withdrawing after a collapse in public support in Japan following the Tokyo 2020 corruption scandals.
Sweden and France are potential 2030 contenders but Salt Lake City in the United States would rather stage the 2034 Winter Olympics so as to put more distance between that event and the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
“We need to address this dramatic impact of climate change,” said Bach. “This is a very complex issue and to address this in a proper way we need some more time.
“This is one of the reasons why the future host commission is proposing to get the opportunity for a double allocation of two successive Olympic Winter Games 2030 and 2034.”
Bach added the double-award proposal would be the subject of further discussions at an IOC session meeting, also in Mumbai, from October 15-17.