Finally, it’s official! Cricket will return to the Olympics at Los Angeles 2028.
Cricket was a part of the 1900 Olympics in Paris with only two teams – one from Great Britain and one from France – competing for medals. Since then, however, the sport, despite its immense popularity worldwide, has not featured in the Olympic programme.
Alongside baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash, cricket was one of the five additional sports proposed by the LA28 Organising Committee for inclusion at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Cricket’s entry to LA28 was formalised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai on Monday.
In India, where cricket is considered a religion, the sport’s return to the Olympic fold after over a century-long hiatus was heartily welcomed. From fans and celebrated athletes to Bollywood superstars, everyone lauded the IOC decision.
“It’s great tidings for India as we have a great cricket team and some superb up-and-coming players with a lot of potential,” Indian javelin ace Neeraj Chopra said. “This will also benefit cricket as an entry into the Olympics will only further its worldwide appeal.
“The sport’s inclusion at LA28 will be an opportunity for cricket to extend its global footprint and encourage more countries to take up the sport seriously,” Chopra added.
Cricketers, meanwhile, are set to have a different experience as well.
“For the cricketers, it is an entry to a sportsperson’s life,” Indian hockey star PR Sreejesh said. “They usually travel to elite places and stay in posh hotels. But when they get to the Olympic Village, they will see different Olympians, medallists and elite international athletes. So it will be a fantastic experience for them.”
Cricket’s inclusion at LA28 also had Bollywood buzzing.
“I was an athlete before I became an actor and sports is in my DNA. Cricket is like a religion in India and so, it’s really exciting,” top actress Deepika Padukone noted. Deepika is the daughter of Indian badminton legend Prakash Padukone.
The cricketing world also stands excited about the sport’s grand return to the Olympic stage.
“As cricketers, we always prepare for the World Cups but now, the Olympics will also be there,” former Indian women’s team pacer Jhulan Goswami stated.
“I hope to see both the Indian men’s and women’s cricket teams participate in LA28 and win medals for their country on the Olympic stage. Really exciting times for all cricketers, especially cricketers.”
Goswami, who retired from international cricket last year, is still the leading wicket-taker in women’s ODI format.
Cricket’s inclusion at LA28 follows a growing trend of the sport making an appearance at different multi-sport events. A men’s cricket tournament was held at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur while the women’s game made its CWG debut at Birmingham 2022 last year.
Both men’s and women’s cricket tournaments, played in the popular T20 format, were part of the Asian Games in 2010, 2014 and 2023.
“The moment we got to know that we could also be potentially a part of the Olympics, we were all really excited,” Harmanpreet Kaur, who led the Indian women’s cricket team to a gold medal at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, said.
“Everyone’s really looking forward to LA28 and we hope that we can perform at the Olympics the same way we did at the Asian Games.”
Mithali Raj, former India captain and leading run scorer of all time in women’s cricket, said, “It is so exciting that cricket is now an Olympic sport and will make its return at LA28. Players will get the chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal and be part of the games which will be so special. It’s also a chance for more fans around the world to enjoy our fantastic sport.”
The format and qualification process for cricket at LA28 will be announced at a later date.
At the Paris 1900 Olympics, the two teams played each other in a two-day ‘Test’ match format. Modern-day Tests on the international stage, however, are played over five days. The two teams also fielded 12 players instead of the traditional 11.
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