Cricket last appeared in the Olympic Games in 1900 in Paris. The sport has a significant worldwide following (and a rabid one in the handful of countries that take it most seriously), but it’s mostly been an afterthought when it comes to Olympic consideration. That may be changing soon, however, and if so it may be largely thanks to support from India.
A few months ago, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson confirmed that the majority of ICC members backed applying to the International Olympic Committee for cricket to be a part of the 2024 games. Those games will be held in either Paris or Los Angeles (the host has not been determined yet), and either would be fascinating. In Los Angeles, the games would be relatively close to some of the South Pacific nations that are passionate about cricket. And in Paris, there would be clear symmetry to the last time cricket was included at the Olympics. It will have been 124 years from one Paris Games to the next!
The key difference is that, this time around, it’s T20 that’s being discussed, rather than classic cricket. It’s a more fan-friendly version of the sport, particularly if the idea is to cater to a global audience. As one overview of T20 put it, this format is largely responsible for cricket’s movement into the popular sporting limelight. The shorter length of the games—often about three hours, much like a baseball game—is simply easier for people to enjoy. And it may well be easier to fit into a busy Olympic schedule as well.
That said, it’s not yet a given that T20 will be included at the 2024 Olympics. A recent article in a UK publication suggested that it could come down to India, and whether or not the country’s sport and cricket leaders publicly support the idea. Incidentally, the deadline has already passed for new Olympic sports to be introduced. But supposedly the rules allow for special exceptions if an appeal is made directly to the host city (again, either Los Angeles or Paris). For that appeal, those behind the bid have asked India to lend open support, with the idea being that another major cricket country’s official backing could go a long way.
That’s where things stand as of the time of this writing, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we know what’s going to happen. Theoretically the host city will need to be chosen before any kind of appeal would become official. But in the meantime, it’s difficult to see a downside of India supporting the idea. T20 in the Olympic Games would be wildly enjoyable for Indians and other fans around the world, and could ultimately give the sport a bigger, more global reach in the long run.