- Die-hard cricket fans in India would have wondered why such a successful, hugely popular, and beloved sport does not find a rightful place in the biggest sporting event of the world to compete and enthrall the patrons. The fact of the matter is a few countries have the pedigree to claim that cricket is a full-fledged sport in their respective countries. Unlike extremely popular global sports like Football, Basketball, Tennis, or Hockey alongside track and field events, cricket is played in fewer countries for it to be counted at the top of the table. However, there is no denying the truth that the subcontinental countries have a huge following raking in unheard-of revenue courtesy of sponsors willing to loosen their purse strings for the shortest format.
- Moreover, note that India is the most populated nation in the world, and the maddening following here is akin to no less than a religion. You are aware of how people flock to the stadiums to witness the sport, especially the shortest format of the game – T20s – that has revolutionized the way cricket is played. The amount of money generated and the popularity of the game from the hugely popular Indian Premier League T20 tournament must count among the top three in the world. No wonder, the International Cricket Council was consistently pressing ahead for the T20 format to be included in the biggest sporting spectacle i.e., the Olympics. It is worth noting that Cricket was first played in the 1900 Paris Olympics. Nothing happened after that, as you know.
- Now, 120 years on, when 90-odd members in the IOC session in Mumbai almost unanimously voted for the five few games proposed, including men’s and women’s cricket for the 2028 LA Olympics, it was a different proposition. Of course, nearly 2 billion people, between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh will regard this as an opportunity for not one, but a possible two Olympic medals. And the added interest will translate into not just increased viewership, but far more lucrative media deals for the IOC. Mind you, the IOC is constantly looking to increase core viewership. Cricket just adds another huge market for the quadrennial event with the subcontinent itself providing humongous viewership riding on the popularity of the game.
- The glamour and success of the IPL, which started in 2008 took cricket to a different level. Many renowned international cricketers have already given up the option of representing their countries to play in the lucrative IPL. Interestingly, T20 cricket, unlike the cozy and exclusive club of Test and One-Day International playing countries, was open to all. Interest in cricket has sprouted in countries as diverse as Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Brazil. Indeed, T20 cricket perfectly fits the Olympic Charter specifying the sport to be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on 4 continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on 3 continents. T20 cricket is a global sport, and the signs look auspicious and encouraging too.