The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially approved the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles games. This decision comes after the sport was excluded from the mega sports event in 1990.
During a press conference on Monday (16 October), the IOC announced its formal approval for adding cricket (T20), baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes), and squash as new sports in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
While two IOC members opposed the decision, one abstained from voting, according to IOC President Thomas Bach. Bach had announced on Friday that bids for including these games in the 2028 Olympics had been submitted.
According to Money Control, Nita Ambani, IOC Member and Reliance Foundation Chairperson, expressed her delight at the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. She emphasised the significance of cricket to the 1.4 billion Indians, stating that it is not just a sport but a religion.
Ambani also highlighted that this historic resolution was passed at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai, India, which further strengthens the engagement of the Olympic Movement in new regions and boosts cricket's international popularity.
The lineup of new sports for the LA Olympic Games will be diverse. Baseball/softball, cricket, and lacrosse will be making a comeback, while flag football and squash will be making their Olympic debut.
Baseball returned in Tokyo 2020 but will not be featured in the Paris Games. Softball, the female counterpart to baseball, has been a part of five Summer Games, including the most recent one in Tokyo 2020.
Cricket will make its return to the Olympics in the Twenty20 format, after being featured only once before at the Paris Games in 1900. The LA 2028 Olympics plans to host a six-team Twenty20 event for both men and women.
Lacrosse, a sport created by the Indigenous Peoples of North America, will also be included in the LA28 Olympics, featuring the sixes format which is a fast and compact version of the game. This will mark its third appearance at the Olympic Games, following its inclusion in St Louis 1904 and London 1908.
Flag football, a sport that is rapidly growing in popularity both in the US and internationally, is a non-contact version of American football played by teams of five, while squash is already included in eight other multi-sport events, showcasing its global appeal.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that the selection of these sports is the result of a thorough process and analysis. The evaluation criteria, including gender equality, were established prior to the selection process. The IOC's statement emphasises the importance of considering these factors when making decisions about which sports to include in the Olympics.
The addition of these sports brings excitement and diversity to the Olympic Games, further enhancing the global appeal of the event. The inclusion of new sports reflects the ever-evolving nature of the Olympics, ensuring that it remains relevant and engaging for athletes and spectators alike.
Bach, who chaired the Executive Board meeting, stated that the selection of these five new sports aligns with American sports culture and will showcase iconic American sports to the world, while also bringing international sports to the United States.
Bach emphasised that these sports will make the Olympic Games LA28 unique and enable the Olympic Movement to engage with new athlete and fan communities in the US and globally.
He also acknowledged the contributions of Nita Ambani, an IOC member and the chairperson of Reliance Foundation, for her role in shaping India's sports scene and presenting the concept of including cricket in the Olympic Games to IOC members.
LA28 will be a 33-sport spectacle. In addition to the 28 Olympic sports initially included in LA28's sports program, as announced by the IOC in February 2022, the five new sports will be introduced.
The original 28 sports include Aquatics, Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Canoe, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football (Soccer), Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Rowing, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Skateboarding, Sport Climbing, Surfing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, and Wrestling.
Casey Wasserman, the Chairperson of LA28, emphasised that these sports will not only bring new athletes to the Games but also engage diverse fanbases and expand the Games' presence in digital spaces, aligning with LA28's mission to provide an unparalleled experience.
The 141st Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mumbai on 14 October. During his address to the IOC Session delegation, PM Modi announced India's commitment to hosting the 2036 Olympics.
He expressed the excitement of Indians about hosting the Games and assured that no effort will be spared in organising the event. PM Modi also mentioned India's interest in hosting the 2029 Youth Olympics and expressed confidence in receiving constant support from the IOC.
IOC President Thomas Bach, in his speech at the opening ceremony, praised India as an exceptional venue for hosting the IOC session. He highlighted India's unique combination of a rich history and a vibrant present, along with a strong belief in the future.
The IOC Session, scheduled from October 15-17, is a crucial event where decisions regarding the future of the Olympic Games are made by the International Olympic Committee members.
This is the second time India is hosting the IOC session in about four decades, with the previous instance taking place in New Delhi in 1983 during the IOC's 86th Session.
The session is attended by Thomas Bach, various IOC members, distinguished Indian sports personalities, and delegates from multiple sports federations, including the Indian Olympic Association.
Los Angeles is preparing to host its third Olympic Games in 2028. The previous games were held in 1984 and 1932. The LA28 Olympic Games will kick off with the Opening Ceremony on 14 July 2028, and will continue until 30 July 2028.
This edition of the games will showcase more than 3,000 hours of live sporting action, featuring 800 events across 33 different sports categories. An estimated 15,000 athletes will be participating in the Games.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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