September 26, 2023
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether cricket can be an Olympic sport. We also look at the gifts for Pakistani pilgrims in Uttarakhand, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Can cricket be an Olympic sport?
For many athletes, having an Olympic medal around their necks is the holy grail. It’s the pursuit of a lifelong dream to stand on that podium in front of millions watching. Not everyone will get that opportunity. The Olympics are, in many ways, like reaching the peak. There’s also the small factor of whether the sport you’re involved in is an actual Olympic event.
While we see football, basketball, and tennis, among others, grace the Olympics, where’s cricket? The popular game that often involves a lot of money in media, sponsorships, advertising, etc., has been absent from the global sporting event. Would cricket be a good fit for the Olympic games?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first – cricket won’t be in next year’s Olympics in Paris. Any jostling with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be included in the event will take time.
Also, it’s not entirely true that cricket was never part of the Olympics. A test match was played in the 1900 Paris Olympics. It was a two-day affair between Great Britain and France. Only 366 runs were scored across four innings, with 24 players instead of the usual 22.
There were plans to include cricket in the first official games in Athens in 1896, but there weren’t enough participants. Four years later, the plan was for Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium to field their cricket teams. However, the Netherlands and Belgium withdrew after their joint bid to co-host the Olympics was turned down.
At the time, the players might not have known they were playing as part of the Olympics since they were playing under the banner of the 1900 Exposition Universelle – the World Fair. It wasn’t until 1912 that the match was given official Olympic status.
For cricket lovers, if the sport does get included in the Olympics, the wait will have been long. Since 1900, the sport has grown exponentially. It has also evolved with new formats like the one-day international and T20. More countries play in more venues than ever before.
For cricket to even be considered, a few things needed to be done. The International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s governing body, took control of the women’s game in 2005. After that, it introduced the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-compliant anti-doping code in 2006. This meant the ICC checked all the necessary boxes and could submit an application. It was accepted by the IOC in 2007.
Over the past year or two, the ICC has been mounting an effort to get cricket included. If successful, the earliest that would be is the 2028 Los Angeles games. Eight other sports will be vying for Olympic attention as over 100 IOC members will vote on the matter next month, just after the India and Pakistan World Cup match. The other sports are flag football, karate, kickboxing, baseball-softball, lacrosse, breakdancing, squash and motorsport.
VIEW: The sensible move
There’s no doubting cricket’s popularity. But there’s also potential. The potential to grab new audiences and mainstream attention in countries where the sport isn’t as popular. That’s precisely why cricket would make sense for the Los Angeles games. As Michael Payne, former marketing and broadcast rights director of the IOC, put it, there’s a cricket boom in the United States. If we look beyond that to 2032 in Brisbane, Australia’s history with cricket is well documented. The success of cricket in the latest Asian Games could act as a catalyst.
There’s the obvious business and economic incentive also in all of this. There’s a perception that the Olympics isn’t as strong in terms of viewership and exposure in the sub-continent. Cricket could change that, given its popularity. There’s also a lot of money involved. Viacom 18 paid $31 million for Olympic broadcast rights. Compare that to the American network NBC, which paid $7.65 billion for a deal till 2032.
There are a lot of sports already in the Olympics, and adding more brings its fair share of complications. However, the advantage that cricket has is the T20 format. It doesn’t take an entire day or several days and arguably brings in the most viewership numbers. There’s an audience for cricket. There’s the appetite from stakeholders. There’s money in it, and the IOC has made all the right noises going back to 2011 when IOC President Jacques Rogge said they would welcome an application since it’s a popular sport.
COUNTERVIEW: Many complications
While it seems like a no-brainer to include cricket in the Olympics, there are a few complications to address. If we take an overview of the sport, the sport itself has 105 full members from across the world. However, only 10 of these have “Test status”. The subcontinental teams do a lot of the heavy lifting. Then there is the issue of timing. For the English Cricket Board (ECB), the Olympics’ summer dates will clash with their traditional cricketing calendar. The same could be said about the IPL.
There’s the competition. With football’s overwhelming popularity, how popular can cricket get? The ICC has clear ambitions to make cricket a truly global sport. But, they seem unrealistic. Making cricket even semi-popular in countries like the USA, China, or Brazil will be a tall order. Per SportCal’s Global Sports Event Index, the ICC Cricket World Cup ranked third among the most popular single-sport events from 2009 to 2016, behind football and rugby.
Over the past few Olympics, none of the hosts have been major cricketing nations. Logistically, too, there are conundrums. For one, there’s no England in the IOC. It’s Great Britain. Similarly, the West Indies constitutes 15 Caribbean territories with different countries. What about perception? Would winning an Olympic medal in cricket mean the same, more, or less than winning the ODI World Cup? That would also be a factor in the countries, i.e., their cricketing bodies, deciding on the calibre of players to send to the Olympics. If you want people to attend and tune in, you need the stars on the field.
- Cricket in Olympics: Great Britain stumps France for gold at Paris 1900 – Olympics
- Cricket on front foot as Olympics panel looks to include new sports – The Indian Express
- No spot in the Olympics? It’s not cricket – The Hindu
- Cricket in the Olympics: Why has it taken so long? – The Sydney Morning Herald
- Asian Games success will boost cricket’s hopes for 2028 Los Angeles Olympics – Sportstar
- The battle for bronze – The Cricket Monthly
- Olympic Games and cricket are a difficult match to make – The Guardian
- The challenges for cricket as an Olympic sport – Last word on sports
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Cricket can be an Olympic event.
b) Cricket can’t be an Olympic event.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Reservation when? After, after, after
For the Left:
With AIADMK as ‘rival’, BJP will try to create perception of a turf war in TN
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Gifts for pilgrims from Pakistan (Uttarakhand) – Pilgrims from Pakistan visiting the Piran Kaliyar Sharif shrine in Uttarakhand for the annual Urs festival will receive copies of the Bhagavad Gita and sacred waters of the Ganga as gifts. This initiative was announced by Uttarakhand Waqf Board Chairman Shadab Shams. Approximately 110 pilgrims from Pakistan are expected to visit the shrine for this year’s Urs festival.
Why it matters: The gesture of gifting the Bhagavad Gita and Ganga waters to Pakistani pilgrims signifies an effort to foster interfaith harmony and cultural exchange. The shrine, dedicated to the 13th-century Sufi saint Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari, is revered by both Muslims and Hindus and is located near Roorkee on the Ganga’s banks.
Annapurna scheme’s festive boost (Rajasthan) – Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced that beneficiaries of the Annapurna scheme will receive an extra food kit on every religious festival. The announcement was made during a fund disbursement event for the Indira Gandhi gas cylinder subsidy scheme in Jodhpur.
Why it matters: The Annapurna Food Packet Scheme, initiated in August on Independence Day, aims to distribute free food packets to over 10.4 million families monthly. Gehlot emphasized the effort to shield households from inflation, especially with a series of religious festivals approaching.
Dhalbhumgarh airport revival (Jharkhand) – The Centre and the Jharkhand government are nearing an agreement on the revival of the ₹300 crore Dhalbhumgarh airport project in Jamshedpur. The breakthrough was achieved after the Jharkhand government approved 65 hectares of forest land for the airport project, out of the 99 hectares requested by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
Why it matters: For the remaining 35 hectares, three out of five villages surrounding the proposed airport have consented to provide their land. The airport, once operational, will serve Jharkhand’s industrial capital, Jamshedpur, the West Singhbhum mining belt, and regions in Odisha and West Bengal.
Largest CCTV network (Telangana) – Telangana Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali inaugurated a vast network of 2,306 CCTVs funded by the Safe City project. These advanced cameras, installed across the tri-commissionerates, are connected to the command control centre. Mahmood Ali highlighted that 64% of the total CCTV cameras in India are located in Telangana. Additionally, a War Room was inaugurated to facilitate quick decision-making during crises.
Why it matters: The state’s Director General of Police, Anjani Kumar, emphasized the importance of this new camera network, especially its availability for significant events like Ganesh Chaturthi and Milad. City Police Commissioner, CV Anand, mentioned that all departments would monitor the Ganesh immersions and Milad Julus from the Telangana State Police Integrated Command & Control Centre (TSPICCC).
Bamboo workshop (Tripura) – The NABARD, in collaboration with the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI) c/o NECTAR, hosted a unique workshop titled “Crafting Elegance with Bamboo: Artistry and Design” in Agartala. The workshop aimed to unite experts and artisans from across India and Tripura to promote the bamboo sector’s growth and convergence.
Why it matters: Various institutions showcased their commitment to the bamboo sector. The workshop provided a platform for experts to share knowledge and techniques, allowing artisans to learn from professionals in bamboo artistry and design.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
90,000 – The US issued over 90,000 visas to Indian students between June and August this year. This constitutes one-fourth of the total number of student visas issued during that period.