Cricket’s more than 100-year Olympic exile moved closer to ending after the sport was approved for inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.
IOC president Thomas Bach, speaking after Friday’s second day of an executive board meeting in Mumbai, said officials had accepted a proposal by LA organisers for Twenty20 cricket to be included as one of five new sports together with baseball/softball, flag football (non-contact American football), squash and lacrosse.
But the final choice of which sports are on the 2028 programme will be voted on Monday at the IOC session in Mumbai, one of the hotbeds of cricket, as India hosts the men’s 50-over Cricket World Cup.
“For the IOC, it is a great opportunity to engage with new athlete and fan communities,” said Bach.
“We see the growing popularity of T20 cricket and we look forward to welcoming the world’s best players to the US in 2028,” he added.
Los Angeles chiefs have proposed a six-team event, in both men’s and women’s T20 cricket, with the United States set to field sides as the host nation.
But no firm decision on the number of teams or how they are qualified will be taken unless and until cricket receives formal ratification on Monday.
Cricket last featured at the 1900 Paris Olympics, when a team from Britain beat a side representing France.
The sport has made moves towards a return to the Games for more than a decade, with the encouragement of the Olympic movement.
Adding cricket to the Olympic programme is an obvious move, financially speaking.
It would tap into the lucrative South Asian market, attracting fans in countries such as India and Pakistan.
T20 cricket is the sport’s shortest international format.
The Indian Premier League, featuring cricket’s global stars, has helped India become the unquestioned economic driving force of the sport, thanks to legions of fans and lucrative broadcasting deals in a nation where the game is almost a religion.
Meanwhile, the status of boxing at the 2028 Games remains uncertain after the IOC stripped the International Boxing Association of its recognition following a dispute over how the sport is governed.
Boxing has been part of every Olympics since 1920 and will feature in Paris next year.
“We want boxing on the programme,” said Bach. “We have no problem, with boxing or boxers — we have a problem with the governing body.”