The Olympics is an event consisting of a plethora of sports in which athletes from the world over compete. It’s held in one specific city, every four years, where athletes congregate and spend nearly 15-20 days. The 2016 London Olympics had a total 36 different types of sports in which more than 10,500 athletes participated.
For India’s population, we have not been able to leave a mark in the games. In the 125 years’ history of the games, India has managed to win a solitary gold medal when Abhinav Bindra won gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Indians have always believed that we could have a shot at gold if cricket was included in the Olympics. The last time cricket was played in the games, back in 1900, where only two teams participated.
The chatter around cricket, in its T20 format, is included in the Olympics has recently gained momentum. Players like Adam Gilchrist and Rahul Dravid have endorsed its inclusion. The big cricketing boards like BCCI and ECB have also taken it under consideration with BCCI giving it an in-principle nod in its April 2021 virtual meeting. The ICC has formed the Olympics Committee which has given a real boost to the hopes of the fans to see the sports in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
We look at the reasons as to why the sports haven’t been included in the games yet.
Nature of Cricket
Until recently, tests and ODIs formed a major part of cricket. These formats were not the right fit for the Olympics considering the compactness and time constraints of the entire event. T20 is the most supported format and could be the solution to overcome time limitations in Olympics. However, the T20 World Cup takes place every two years and is a major cash cow for the ICC. Therefore, if this format were to be included in the Olympics, alternate arrangements need to be undertaken for the ICC T20 world cup which happens every two years currently.
Cricket is played in big stadiums with huge crowd capacities. It would be a nightmare for the host city to set up brand new stadiums for cricket. Football is another sport that takes place in the Olympics but due to its popularity, football stadiums are generally present in the major cities. Cities that generally host the Olympics are not major cricket-playing nations like the USA and Japan (Tokyo 2021 Olympics). Therefore, it would result in heavy logistical and capital costs for these cities to build cricket stadiums.
Lack of interest by Cricket Boards
Over the years, the big cricket boards such as BCCI and ECB have refused to be part of any discussion involving the Olympics. The reason is simple, i.e. when a country participates in the Olympics, it is governed by the Olympics association of that respective country. Therefore, in India’s case, cricketers and the entire arrangement of their participation would be handled by the India Olympics Association. BCCI has been averse to this since it has wielded complete control of the game in India and does not wish anyone else to intervene.
Complicated participation by cricketing nations
The cricketing nations participate very differently in the Olympics. For example, England and Scotland play cricket as individual nations but participate in the Olympics under the flag of Great Britain. The same issue goes for the West Indies which plays cricket as an amalgamation of a 15 nation block but Jamaica participates in the Olympics under its own flag. This makes the issue of participation complicated.
Lack of interest in the world
Cricket is a huge sport in south Asia and some parts of Europe and Australia follow it. The sports played in the Olympics are global sports with their following across the world. Cricket may not be enticing for the organizers and the broadcasters since it has its concentration in a few pockets.