Cricket getting closer to the Olympic Games: what are the implications?

With cricket being one of the five sports to be formally approved for inclusion in the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, the whole world is waiting to see what will be the fate of one of the most popular games for nearly 1/3 of the entire earth’s population. 

Cricket is an enormously popular sport in some parts of the world, like India, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka etc – but it does not enjoy as much popularity in the remainder of the planet. 

With the internet and the growth of online sports betting, which generally promotes cricket betting, adding therefore more people who get to know the sport, cricket has come actually closer to populations that have not traditionally been familiar with it. It’s quite normal to see every online betting site in Bangladesh promoting cricket betting, but it’s now also normal to see betting sites from other parts of the world – in non-cricket countries – also promoting cricket betting.  But the naked truth is that cricket remains widely unpopular in a  large part of this world. 

This is, though, about to change, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has voted in favor of the LA28 proposal to include some new sports in the Olympic Games’ program. Alongside cricket, there is softball/baseball, flag football, squash and lacrosse. The Los Angeles Organizing Committee has been in fact really supportive of cricket, demonstrating a clear suggestion for getting cricket games into the Olympiad. 

Now it should be noted that cricket is not actually new to the Olympics. It had made its appearance back in 1900 in one single game between England and France – where England won. As such, England is the reigning champion that is going to defend its title, if cricket makes the Games in five years from now. 

Getting cricket in the Olympic Games has been rather difficult due to a number of reasons. For one thing, it is the fact that cricket’s fundamental format – the Test matches last too long and they can’t really be included in an organization that spans across a very specific period of time. Test cricket matches can take up to several days and so, it is needless to point out how much of a problem this would cause to the organization of the Olympics. 

But with the growing popularity of Twenty20, a far shorter version of cricket where matches can go on for nearly three hours, the argument of ‘duration’ collapses. And so, this format had ensured a very serious and realistic possibility of getting cricket to the Olympic Games. 

What does this mean for the sport and the IOC respectively? Well, let’s see. 

For the sport itself, becoming a formal game of the Olympics means that it automatically upgrades to a universal sport. It will no longer address only to the cricket-playing nations or even to some countries where cricket betting is popular, without the sport itself being popular.

Being in the Olympics will take cricket globally, introduce it to new audiences, possibly recruit new talent and generally create new conditions where the sport can eventually thrive. Any given sport gets advanced for as long as it gets to be better and more competitive. If cricket is taken to the worldwide talent pool, it will be able to attract new players and constantly improve its own dynamics. 

For the IOC incorporating cricket into its formal sports will be a step up in being a truly universal organization. If the Olympics are to concern the globe, then they have to be able to address everybody across the globe. The ICC (International Cricket Council) boasts widespread popularity and it is one of the most respected organizations in the world – with billions of social media followers and supporters. 

Getting access to those, means that the IOC will further enhance its equity and its glory. But most importantly, it will get access to the fans of cricket, who will add a considerably large percentage of new IOC’s audiences. 

And it is also the host country and organizing committee itself that has a lot to benefit from, if cricket gets included in the Olympics. The Los Angeles 2028 Olympics will manage to get its hands on billions of new people who will view cricket games during the Games. 

Adding cricket to the Olympic Games is a win-win situation for both parties: the cricket and the ICC on the one hand and the IOC and the host organizing committee on the other hand.

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