Niccolo Campriani chuckled on stage. “This one is an easy one to pitch,” he said.

Campriani, the affable Italian is a four-time Olympic medallist – three of those medals were gold. Now the former shooter serves as the sports director for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics organising committee.

On Monday, at the International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai, Campriani was given the task of introducing cricket as a part of the package of five sports that the Los Angeles 2028 organisers want to have as a part of the Olympic program for that specific edition.

Minutes later, as the members of the International Olympic Committee, or the IOC, concluded the voting process, the five sports – cricket, squash, flag football, lacrosse and baseball/softball – were officially included as medal disciplines for the quadrennial event that will take place in 2028.

“The commitment to grow cricket in the [United States] is real and it’s already happening,” Campriani said. “With the launch of the very first Major League Cricket season earlier this year, which exceeded all expectations, to the [ICC Men’s] 2024 Twenty20 World Cup coming to US and West Indies.

“This is the ultimate win-win-win for LA 28, the IOC and the cricket community. As cricket will be showcased on a global stage to grow beyond the traditional countries, while the Olympic Movement gains access to previously untapped communities of athletes and fans.”

Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympic Games will come after a 128-year gap. The last, and only, occasion where the sport was played at the marquee event was at the Paris Olympics in 1900. At that edition, only two teams – Devon and Somerset Wanderers (representing Great Britain) and the French Athletic Club Union (France) competed, with the British team taking the gold.

In Los Angeles, cricket is expected to be organised in the T20 format, with six teams each in the men’s and women’s event. It is unknown yet what may be the qualification process, but the US may get one berth by virtue of being hosts.

“From the very beginning, cricket was on the list of sports that we were excited to think about,” said Casey Wasserman, chairperson of the Los Angeles 2028 organising committee at a media interaction. “As we went through the process, we realised we’d be making a mistake if we didn’t include it.”

The organisers of the Los Angeles Games had presented the five sports as an all-or-nothing package. On Friday, the executive board of the IOC recommended the proposal, but the final decision was made on Monday after the IOC members voted for the inclusion of the five sports.

Best players required

The decision however, only pertains to the 2028 Games, and it is not a guarantee that a cricket event will be organised at the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia.

Additionally, the IOC has made it clear that – such as the case with the recently concluded Asian Games – ‘A’ teams will not be acceptable.

“[The IOC] has the understanding that [the International Cricket Council] will provide the best players for the Olympic competition,” said Karl Stoss, the chairperson of the Olympic Programme Commission, during the IOC Session. “This will be closely monitored.”

The men’s cricket event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou coincided with the start of the ongoing ICC Men’s ODI World Cup which is being hosted in India. Because of this, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan sent second-string teams to compete in China.

By having the best players competing at the Olympics however, the International Cricket Council (the governing body of the game, also called the ICC) is hoped to get the sport a greater reach.

“It was a part of our motivation to use the world’s biggest sporting stage to help further grow the sport,” said Greg Barclay, chairperson of the ICC, in a mixed-zone interaction. “We are one of the fastest growing team sports in the world. We are under-represented in certain regions and certain countries so this is an opportunity address that.”

Also read: Olympics – India may have confirmed its intention to host the 2036 Games, but a long process remains

Crucially, four of the five new sports added are team sports – squash being the only exception. This will increase the overall athlete participation at the Olympics.

The Olympic Charter dictates that an edition of the Games should not exceed 10,500 athletes. However, the number for Los Angeles 2028 will go up to 11,042, which is 742 athletes over the mark.

Wasserman however, asserted that the city will be able to handle the capacity when the event begins in the summer of 2028.

Come Los Angeles 2028, the most popular sport in India will officially become a true, global event.