Why Is Cricket Not An Olympic Sport?

On 23 July the 2020 Summer Olympics began with an enchanting, if shortened, opening ceremony in Tokyo.

Despite the pandemic related challenges facing athletes participating in the delayed olympics, these games still promise to showcase the very peak of human sporting performance in a wider variety of disciplines than ever before.

Skateboarding. Surfing. Speed climbing. Golf. The list goes on…

Yet there is still one notable absentee on the list of Olympic events: Cricket.

The International Olympic Committee considers multiple factors when deciding which sports make the cut: The impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports and the legacy of adding them to the games.

So why in the world isn’t cricket an Olympic sport? After all, it is the second most popular sport in the world.

Firstly, albeit many years ago, it is important to note that cricket was once a sport at the Summer Olympics.

Though cricket was scheduled for the 1896 and 1904 Olympics, cricket only took place at the 1900 Paris Summer Olympic Games.

Only two countries took to the field at the Vélodrome de Vincennes, Great Britain and hosts France. The French team constituted mostly of English expatriates, while the English team was represented by the touring side Devon & Somerset Wanderers Cricket Club (pictured at head of article).

The Poster For The First And Only Olympic Cricket Match

The non first-class, two innings match was played over two days with both teams fielding 12 men. Great Britain won the match by 158 runs to win the gold medal, and France took silver.

The game details would have been lost for the ages, however one of the British players made notes of the scorecard, so some limited information remains.

That was curtains for Cricket at the Olympics, though. A game was planned for the 1904 games in St Louis, the event would eventually be cancelled.

Looking To The Future

There has been support in recent times for its reintroduction. World Cup winning captain of England Eoin Morgan has previously backed its inclusion played using the Ten10 (10 overs per innings) format.

Further, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) in its Annual General Meeting decided to back the ICC's bid for inclusion of cricket for the Olympics being held in Los Angeles in 2028.

Equally, should a country from the subcontinent host the 2032 Olympics, and cricket still not be included, there is no doubt in our mind that they will suggest Cricket as the showcase sport given its popularity in generally underrepresented countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Cricket will eventually have its moment in the Olympic spotlight. When that will be is a different question, but the cricketing world will be ready to show the world what this sport is all about.


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