ICC's Richardson heralds new round of Olympics talks in presenting aims for year
The International Cricket Council is to hold another round of talks in the first half of this year on a possible bid for the sport to join the Olympic programme, David Richardson, the governing body's president, has said.
In an article on the ICC's website, Richardson wrote: "We… need to determine cricket's strategy in respect of participation in the Olympic Games. It is something we will continue to explore in the first half of 2017 and if our Members agree they would like to pursue it, then that’s when the real work for Olympic inclusion begins.”
In part because of scheduling issues, the ICC has previously been cautious about applying for the sport to be added to the Olympic programme.
Under changes to the Olympics brought about by the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform programme, host cities are entitled to propose sports for addition to the programme, but the ICC decided not to ask for cricket to be considered for inclusion on the programme of the 2020 games in Tokyo (those chosen were baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing).
Twenty20, the popular short-format version of cricket, is thought to be the most likely discipline to be put forward for inclusion in the Olympics. The sport has appeared only once in the games, in Paris in 1900.
Opposition to Olympics cricket has come from some of the sport’s leading national governing bodies, principally the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which is concerned over scheduling and the availability of top players in an already crowded calendar.
However, other national boards are more supportive, and the England and Wales Cricket Board, which was previously opposed, now appears to be more open to the prospect.
Richardson's comments came in an article in which he outlined the ICC's priorities for 2017. The four main pillars are listed as: cricket; growth; integrity; and events and commercial partnerships.
He stressed the importance of: women's cricket, with the World Cup to take place in England this year; the fight against corruption, in particular match-fixing and doping; global events and partnerships attractive to fans, broadcasters and sponsors; and expansion, with Will Glenwright, the ICC's new head of global development, in the process of developing a new strategy to be launched in the second half of 2017.
Richardson said: "We need to challenge in a global market and simply maintaining the status quo means we will fall behind other sports. We must be ambitious and pursue growth and ensure our sport is evolving, attracting new fans and developing in new markets all whilst protecting the heritage of the game we all love."