Cricket’s Olympics pitch



The ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have brought the audience from all the over the world to the former capital of Brazil and the people, apart from enjoying the scenic beauty of the city, are backing their athletes and teams to bring medals home.

While all of this is happening, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is seeking a way of re-entering the Games to cash in on the audience that the Olympics have to offer and the obvious question from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) still remains that of why.

Cricket’s Olympics road leads to Rome

When the first cricket event became a part of the Olympics, in 1900, between Great Britain and France, the world saw why the sport cannot be made a part of the Games.

The four-team event was first of all reduced to a two-team clash when Belgium and Netherlands backed out of the event. Moreover, the two-day game was finished just five minutes before the stipulated time cautioning organisers of the consequences if the match continued forward.

Thus, the arguments against cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics rely on the time-consuming model of the sport. However, the ICC has a solution ready to counter this argument in the form of the Twenty-20 format. Cricket pundits and experts agree that if cricket does make its return to the Olympics, it will be in the form similar to the World T20 format.

Tendulkar takes in Rio rugby as cricket remains outside the pale

However, another important aspect that is a cause of concern for cities hoping to include cricket to the Olympics roster is that of space and maintenance. Cricket grounds require upkeep and a big staff to curate the pitch and to take care of the ground. Nevertheless, Rome is ready to bear that cost if they win the bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Recently, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson feared a ripple effect when top golfers pulled out of the Rio Olympics citing concerns regarding the outbreak of Zika virus. “The IOC made it clear from the start that if we want to persuade them, they want the top teams [of cricket] and the top athletes,” Richardson said while talking to the British media. “I think this experience with golf might have made it even harder for us to get in, because we will have to convince them our top teams and players will be there,” he added.

Meanwhile, he also said cricketers will have to think of Olympics as the pinnacle of their cricketing careers otherwise they wouldn’t be interested. “Will cricketers regard it as the pinnacle, or would they prefer a World T20, a World Cup, an Ashes series? And if it’s not the pinnacle, should we be in the Olympics in the first place?” questioned Richardson.

Golfers’ withdrawal from Rio may hit cricket’s Olympic prospects: ICC

Richardson’s comments bring to light the demands of the IOC if they are to include cricket in their Games. But, World Rugby’s chief executive Brett Gosper, whose sport returned to the Olympics after a 92-year hiatus, believes cricket has something to give back to the Olympics as well. “If cricket has similar ambitions to rugby, which is to take its footprint out of its comfort zone, then there’s nothing like the Olympics to allow you to do that,” Gosper was quoted by AFP as saying. He added: “Of course, cricket would be good for the Olympics too. It would certainly bring an Indian audience, which is considerable.”

Cricket has to be a part of Olympics soon enough since the sport is working on attaining global appeal, while the IOC should keep the sport’s audience in mind which can bolster the already healthy viewership of the Games. Will we see cricket soon enough as a part of the Olympics is a difficult question to answer but it surely will make its way into the Games. But when, that is to be seen.

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