Ex-cricketers lobby BCCI to back Olympics bid
An influential cricket body has called on the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India to back a campaign for the sport's inclusion at the Olympic Games.
The MCC World Cricket Committee, which is made up of current and former international cricketers and umpires and makes recommendations to the International Cricket Council, the sport's governing body, believes the Twenty20 format's inclusion in the games would greatly benefit the sport, citing a free-to-air audience, an element cricket is having to live without in some of its leading markets.
The International Olympic Committee is believed to be open to cricket’s future inclusion provided all top teams compete, but the BCCI, the game’s richest and most influential board, has been reluctant. It is said to be concerned over scheduling and the availability of top players in an already overcrowded calendar, as well as ceding power to the country's national Olympic committee.
Following an MCC World Cricket committee meeting this week, chairman Mike Gatting (pictured), a former England captain, said: “It’s one of those things that has frustrated me. We would like to urge the BCCI to have a look at it again and support the main body of boards that would like to get into the Olympics.
“It seems strange that everyone else seems happy to get in there because it’s just going to be so good for the game. Free-to-air TV all over the world. It’s only once every four years. It’s not going to be a scheduling matter. It just seems they seem reticent to try and get involved.”
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who also sits on the 14-person independent committee, said: “We’re very conscious of not lessening the product we’re putting out. If cricket makes it into the Olympics it has to be the best players and showcasing the sport for what it is. The players would want it because of how beneficial they would see that being for the game going forward.”
Cricket featured at the Olympics for the first and only time in Paris in 1900, and the 2024 games in the French capital represent its earliest chance of a return.
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, and the Paris 2024 organising committee has begun the process of selecting its extra sports.