How Cricket missed the opportunity with Rio Olympics


We had previously reported that Mrs. Nita Ambani was elected to the IOC and that this could possibly mean we would see cricket being inducted into the Olympics sooner or later. A few documents have emerged as to why and how Cricket missed the opportunity to be featured at both the Rio and the next Olympics at Tokyo.

Had it been featured, this would have been a huge boost for the sport, ensuring a windfall of millions and a much needed global exposure to both the Men’s and Women’s division.

Twenty20 cricket could have been a feature in the Olympics, if the paper sponsored by Cricket Australia had been backed by the ICC and its member countries. The document was titled ‘Cricket within the Olympic Program – A Golden opportunity for the Development of Cricket and the Olympic movement’ was compiled by Philip Pope, a former CA public affairs manager. The paper was said to have been presented at an ICC executives and board meeting back in 2008, detailing the enormous benefits of cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics and also the desire of the IOC to harness the attention of the sub-continent, where more than 20 percent of the world’s population lives.

It is said that senior IOC members were canvassed in preparation of the report and discussions were believed to have reached the point where playing conditions were spoken about. The issue was with the venues for hosting the game during Olympics. Although India appeared to have been a front runner for hosting, it is being said the India is being viewed in a very paltry manner and treated as being almost close to nothing. Speaking as per conditions back in 2008, India still seemed to be vying for its status as a source for potential investments and exposure on the global market front. China appeared to have been a better option globally back then.

The report says that the IOC would be needing a full value for Olympic signaling in India. The plea fell on deaf ears at the ICC top table.

England is said to have opposed the proposal as they felt that this deal would harm their television deal with Sky TV and were not particularly amused at the prospect of having to play as Great Britain.

India’s board on the other hand, were not of the favor of handing over the control of the team to the Indian Olympic Association during the Olympic period. This was coming from the ICC’s pressure as to break up the West Indies and to compete as separate Caribbean islands.

The report concluded that the only possible downside of including cricket would be to create a 17 day window in the Future Tours Program (FTP) once in every four years. This would mean that all the tours would have to be planned and chalked out much in advance.

Speaking of how it could benefit the game, the report adds that there could be a direct funding between 7 million US dollars and 28.5 million US dollars from the IOC’s distribution to the international federations part of the Olympic program, an uplift in the global TV rights, and most importantly a national funding for Cricket as an Olympic program.

Cut to eight years later, where there is believed to be a strong appetite for the T20’s Olympic inclusion from the ICC. Sources are reporting that there was a discussion of having a bidding for the 2024 Olympics at the ICC Annual Conference in June and July this year.

It is being said that majority of the ICC members feel that the time is ripe to include T20 in the Olympics, and this would be the only way to reach un explored nations like Europe, China, United States. T20 has already been exposed on a global level, thanks to the All Stars League, a brain child of Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. Although it did help to gain a few eyeballs from the US, it did not yield the expected results.

Benhail Jaideep
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