The debate over the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics has been long. The issue has gone up to the point that there have been propositions of its inclusion if Rome is allowed to host the big show in 2024. However, the prospect is still dim as, so far, a single sport involving bats and balls has not found its berth in the Olympics.
Cricket is still far from achieving a global popularity. The approach of ICC has been quite exclusive and it is choosy in selecting the teams. There are almost no examples of any international sports organizations assisting countries to develop sporting skills. ICC is not expected to walk the extra mile, but still it can be more inclusive in its approach. The recent debate of dividing cricket playing nations in Test also has the similar hue of this exclusive approach of the industry. Moreover, the new nations like USA, Scotland, Nepal and other such countries are struggling to find a place in the World Cup. In fact, the process of division of countries according to their capacity to win has been the major barrier to entry for new teams. The question is, how would new teams develop their skills if they are always kept miles away from the top players?
A reason why ICC has to choose over performance and remain exclusive is its agenda for business and profitability of the game. Cricket has an independent authority in a majority of its participating nations. In India, BCCI does not utilize government money, but the government spent considerable sums in developing infrastructure as well as skills at grass root levels. Entities like ICC and BCCI has complete control over finance as well as its monetary returns from grand showdowns like IPL and World Cup. The role of broadcasters, financiers as well as advertising is pivotal in cricket. This makes administration of this sport a complex one and is much complicated than the simple fanfare craze and enthusiasm. However, it should be definitely accepted that pure sportsmanship of the players is the only driving engine of its sustainability and stardom.
Therefore, the very structure of Cricket as a Sports industry makes it contrasting with Institutions like the Olympics. In fact, Cricket and Football are parallel industries that can be aligned with Olympics. On the other hand, the latter has been an institution that is more than just games. It has a great history and far more inclusive in nature. Olympics has places for a wide range of sports more of which are associated with single players. The Summer Olympics 2016 is featuring 28 different sports in a total of 41 disciplines most of which involves individual participation of players. It can be argued that inclusion of cricket in Olympics would just mean additional cost for the game that has no enough global participation.
However, the counter argument to include cricket in Olympics is its comprisal of games like Hockey, Football and Rugby. It is reasonable for the cricket fraternity to raise the question why the sport cannot be included if similar sports are already within the circle. The concern is raised by several top cricketers, including Australia's Glenn Mc Grath. The ex-cricketer has rightly pointed out to IOC that, “Now you have Rugby Sevens in the Olympics, there is no reason why cricket should not be there. Perhaps you can have Twenty20 cricket." Cricket was also played in the Commonwealth Games.
Cricket Boards and ICC should take stronger initiatives to include cricket in Olympics. It should be noted that IOC also faces criticism over its policies and administration that is apparently biased. This only leaves a room for cricket authorities to lobby for the sport in the Olympics Committee. If cricket is included, players would certainly find more exposure, even if it may be less earning than their typical emoluments. Cricket Boards might have not extended their endeavors for this because it might be not worth the effort in financial terms.
Sooner or later, cricket will find a place in Olympics. The formats like T20 is the best contender for this. Moreover, sports like Indoor Cricket can grow as a special branch of the game that is customized for Olympics. This would mean not only the development of the sport, but also a greater inclusion of players into the game.
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