Cricket wants an Olympic return in 2028 but faces an uphill battle to make it happen

The International Cricket Council, the governing body of the sport, announced on Tuesday it has formed a working group to lead the bid for 2028.

The second most popular sport in the world wants to return to the Olympics in 2028, 128 years after its only appearance.

Cricket - Fifth Twenty20 International - Bangladesh v Australia - Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh - August 9, 2021. Bangladesh's captain Mahmudullah plays a shot. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
Cricket - Fifth Twenty20 International - Bangladesh v Australia - Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh - August 9, 2021. Bangladesh's captain Mahmudullah plays a shot. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

The International Cricket Council, the governing body of cricket, announced on Tuesday it has formed a working group to lead the bid to get the sport into the Olympic program for Los Angeles 2028.

ICC Chair Greg Barclay said the addition of cricket to the Olympic Games would be beneficial to both the sport and the Games themselves.

“Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future. We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics,” Barclay said.

“Clearly cricket has a strong and passionate fanbase, particularly in South Asia where 92% of our fans come from whilst there are also 30 million cricket fans in the USA. The opportunity for those fans to see their heroes competing for an Olympic medal is tantalizing.”

Cricket trails only soccer in the number of people who follow the sport. But while cricket may dominate in South Asia, it is a significant mainstream sport only in England and other British Commonwealth countries.

In that regard, it is similar to baseball, another bat-and-ball team sport that is popular in only certain areas of the world. But since it is the “national pastime” of the United States, baseball/softball is considered a slam dunk to be included in the sports program for Los Angeles.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Team Japan celebrate winning the Gold Medal Match. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Team Japan celebrate winning the Gold Medal Match. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Japan loves the sport, and baseball and softball were included in Tokyo 2020. They will not be a part of Paris 2024, however.

So why not have both baseball and cricket in Los Angeles? The problem is that both are team sports that require more athletes than an individual sport like karate, which also wants to get back into Olympics after being left out of the Paris program.

The IOC wants to limit the number of athletes at a Summer Games to about 10,500 and adding two bat-and-ball team sports to the program would make staying within that quota more difficult.

While not naming baseball, Barclay admitted his sport would have an uphill battle to get back into the Olympics for the first time since the 1900 Games in Paris.

“We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same. But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics are.”

The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia (Twitter @GabbaBrisbane)
The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia (Twitter @GabbaBrisbane)

While cricket doesn’t appear a good fit for Los Angeles, it seems perfect for the 2032 Games in Brisbane, Australia. The sport is one of the biggest Down Under, though Brisbane’s iconic cricket ground The Gabba may not be available since it’s already scheduled to host the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competition.

The Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, could be an option.

Cricket will feature in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games next year, with an eight-team women’s Twenty20 tournament. It will be the first time cricket has been in the Commonwealth Games since 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.