Cricket’s inclusion in Olympics voted through by IOC members

Cricket’s inclusion in Olympics voted through by IOC members

Cricket’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 1900 has been confirmed after International Olympic Committee members voted to include the sport in the 2028 Games.

Flag football, squash, lacrosse and baseball/softball have also been accepted for Los Angeles.

Only two delegates at the IOC session in Mumbai on Monday voted against the new sports.

There is expected to be both a T20 men’s and women’s tournament.

Organisers for the LA Games have proposed a six-team event, but no firm decision has been made on the number of teams, or how they will qualify.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the sports selected will make the LA Games “unique”.

He added: “The choice of these five new sports is in line with the American sports culture and will showcase iconic American sports to the world, while bringing international sports to the United States.”

Niccolo Campriani, sports director of Olympic and Paralympic Games 2028, said the committee is “thrilled to be welcoming the world’s second most popular sport”.

Italian Campriani, who won gold medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing and London 2012 in shooting, added the selection of cricket’s shorter format was “the ultimate win-win-win”.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Richard Gould feels the Olympics in the US is the perfect opportunity to showcase both the men’s and women’s games to different parts of the world.

Gould said: “[I] have no doubt that featuring in the Olympics will accelerate the continuing and rapid growth of the women’s game.”

The final event programme and number of athlete quotas in the additional sports will be finalised at a later date.

Host cities are able to propose sports they would like added to the Olympic programme when they stage the event.

The United States is co-hosting the men’s T20 World Cup with the West Indies in June 2024 and is set to field a side as host nation at the LA Games.

Cricket’s only previous appearance at the Olympics was at Paris 1900, when Great Britain won by 158 runs against France in a one-off final, after the Netherlands and Belgium withdrew.

Flag football is a non-contact form of American football and will make its Olympic debut in Los Angeles.

The sport is five-a-side, on a smaller pitch – 30 by 70 yards – with players needing to pull the flag off the person with the ball instead of tackling.

The other sport set to make its debut is squash.

Zena Wooldridge, president of the World Squash Federation, said the game is an “amazingly dynamic, diverse and demanding sport that is perfectly suited for the Olympic Games”.

And England Squash described the sport’s inclusion as a “transformational moment”.

Gina Kennedy, who last year became the first Englishwoman to win a Commonwealth Games singles title, said: “This is a moment that my team-mates and I could have only dreamed of.”

The 26-year-old, who is world number seven, added: “We are so excited that it has become a reality.”

This will be the sixth time lacrosse has been included in a summer Olympics, but the first time as a medal sport since the 1908 Games in London.

Sixes, a new fast-paced discipline which was created to help boost the sport’s international growth and aid its 2028 Olympic bid, will be the format used.

Baseball was first played at the 1992 Barcelona Games. It was part of the 2020 Tokyo schedule but will not be played at the Paris Games in 2024.

Softball, the Olympics’ equivalent sport for women, made its debut on the 1996 programme in Atlanta but has also been omitted from next summer’s Olympics.

The president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Riccardo Fraccari, said the atmosphere will be “electric” in LA when athletes have the chance “to play on the biggest stage in front of a global audience of billions”.

The IOC also supported the recommendations made by the executive board concerning the status of modern pentathlon and weightlifting, which were not part of the initial programme for LA 2028.

Modern pentathlon’s inclusion has been endorsed after the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) agreed to replace the showjumping discipline with obstacle racing following an incident at the Tokyo Olympics where a coach struck a horse that refused to jump a fence.

The UIPM also aims to reduce costs and complexity to make the sport more accessible.

Weightlifting will also feature after the IOC recognised improvements that have been made in its anti-doping efforts, but the sport will continue to be closely monitored for 2024 qualification and competition.

Boxing’s participation remains on hold as the IOC has yet to recognise another governing body for the sport after withdrawing its recognition of the International Boxing Association earlier this year.

Boxing has been part of every Olympics since 1920 and will feature at Paris 2024. (BBC)

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