The International Cricket Council ( ICC) has ruled out the inclusion of cricket in the Olympic Games. The ICC took this decision, at its Executive Board meeting in London, apparently due to a “conflict”. Jagmohan Dalmiya, who represented the Board of Control for Cricket in India ( BCCI) at the ICC Executive Board meeting, confirmed this development on Sunday.
“We have rejected it [ inclusion of cricket in the Olympics]; we [BCCI] didn’t support the idea. We rejected it because there was a conflict,” Dalmiya told Mail Today. However, Dalmiya, who attended this and other meetings, deputising for N. Srinivasan after he ‘stepped aside’ as BCCI chief pending the outcome of an IPL inquiry against his son- in- law, declined to elaborate on what this conflict was.
For the inclusion of cricket at the Olympics, the ICC would have had to apply formally with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the earliest the game could have been included was at the 2024 Games. One major reason could be the possible loss of revenues for the ICC as T20 is the only format that could have been played at the Olympics. This format also happens to be one of the biggest revenue earners for the ICC, and the game’s governing body would not have liked to lose a major source of revenue. This income is distributed amongst member countries, and no country would like to sacrifice that.
This was also pointed out by the MCC World Cricket Committee in February, when it said that ICC would lose money if cricket were to be played at the Olympics.
“The MCC World Cricket committee appreciates that a great deal of effort may be needed to lobby for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympic Games of 2024,” said a statement after that meeting held in Auckland.
“The committee accepts that, were cricket to be played in the Olympics, there would be a shortterm loss in income for the ICC, and therefore for dispersion to its members, but is impressed with the potential boost for the game worldwide if cricket were to be included,” it said.
“Furthermore, the committee advocates T20 cricket as the format to be played at the Olympics, thereby providing the ‘pinnacle’ of that form of the sport.” The other factor could have been that some countries would not have liked to send their top players to the Olympics if the dates of their bilateral series or that of the T20 World Cup clashed with the world’s biggest sporting event.
This problem arose at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, held in Kuala Lumpur. There was big drama in India with regard to the selection of the team as the Commonwealth Games dates clashed with the Sahara Cup held in Toronto. Finally, Sachin Tendulkar, along with captain Ajay Jadeja, vice- captain Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh etc were picked in the team while Mohammad Azharudin captained the team that went to Toronto and also included Sourav Ganguly as vicecaptain, Navjot Singh Sindhu, Rahul Dravid, Nayan Mongia, and Ajit Agarkar.
The BCCI also did not send both men’s and women’s teams to the 2010 Asian Games held in Guangzhou from November 12 and 27 because the dates clashed with India’s home series against New Zealand. Bangladeshi men and Pakistani women won the gold medals.
Over the years, many prominent personalities have given their vote to cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics. “We would welcome an application. It’s an important, popular sport and very powerful on television. It’s a sport with a great tradition where mostly you have a respect of the ethics,” IOC president Jacques Rogge had said in 2011.
Cricket was played at the Olympics only once before, in 1900, when Britain won the gold by beating France.