Cricket has been approved for the Los Angeles Olympics by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, with the IOC’s president, Thomas Bach, hailing the news as a “win-win” for all sides. Four other sports proposed by LA organisers – flag football, squash, baseball/softball and lacrosse – were also approved in Mumbai on Friday, and will now go to the IOC session this weekend for a vote, which will be a formality.
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Bach revealed that the LA 2028 organising committee chief, Casey Wasserman, had needed very little persuading of cricket’s merits and had brought the idea of its inclusion up during a meal at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last year.
“It did not take anything to convince him,” said Bach. “Casey saw already the great potential and was highlighting it himself. It is very attractive for LA and it’s very attractive for the Olympic movement.”
There are expected to be six men’s and women’s T20 teams in LA, with the United States qualifying as hosts. Bach confirmed that India had not yet signed a TV deal for the rights for 2028 but stressed the decision was about more than money.
“This is a win-win situation,” he said. “The Olympic Games will give cricket a global stage and the opportunity to grow beyond its traditional countries and regions. And for the Olympic movement it’s the opportunity to engage with a fan and athlete community to which we have had very little, or even no, access.
“One can enrich the other. In India you see the growing Olympic spirit, and a number of Olympic sports are gaining strength and becoming popular, but cricket is still the number-one sport.”
Bach confirmed that the inclusion of boxing “was still on hold” for LA due to the fact the amateur sport still had no governing body, but made it clear the IOC wanted it to be there. “We want boxing on the programme,” he added. “We have no problem with boxing or the boxers. We have a huge problem with regard to the governing body.”
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Another sport under threat, weightlifting, has been granted a reprieve following a slew of doping cases after it agreed to make substantial reforms.
Bach also confirmed that modern pentathlon would be back at the Games, but with obstacle racing replacing equestrianism. “To make this clear for all concerned, without the exchange of riding for obstacle racing it would not have been included in the programme,” he added.
Meanwhile, the IOC president said Thursday’s suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee would have no bearing on the potential for Russian athletes to compete as “neutrals” in Paris next year. “There is no time pressure because we reserve the right to invite individual neutral athletes with Russian passports,” he added.