The Debate Continues
Should cricket ever make it to the big 'O', then it might make its first appearance in 2024. It will join other new sports, such as karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing, all of which will make their Olympic debuts in 2020.
Of course, there would be conditions attached to the new status as an Olympic sport, but there really can be no denying the value in making the move. The IOC demands that the Olympic teams must consist of the best players and best teams, which it is said may defeat the object of broadening its presence within more territories which are non-traditional. However, the coverage it would receive would boost interest, awareness and, hopefully, also funding significantly.
One of the biggest obstacles for cricket becoming an Olympic sport will remain the infrastructure. Where will the teams play? A cricket ground is incredibly difficult to build and maintain - far more so than a temporary venue for skateboarding or squash. The host nation will require not only the expertise but also the space to accommodate the sport. Then there are stands to consider. Will it be a spectator sport, and if not, is there any point? The candidate cities for 2024 are Los Angeles, Rome, Paris and Budapest. Of these, it is only in LA that cricket fields have been magically constructed through the not uncomplicated transformation of baseball grounds.
Back in 2008, the subject of cricket and the Olympics was featured in a briefing entitled "Cricket Within the Olympic Program - A Golden Opportunity for the Development of Cricket and the Olympic Movement". This was presented to the IOC, who turned down the idea on the basis that full members could not agree on the matter. There appeared to be something of an East-West divide over the subject. However, opinion may be set to change as pressure from all sides grows.
In the meantime, the Olympics are responsible for motivating many everyday people to become more active - whether that is to pick up a tennis racket or start pounding the streets in an effort to improve fitness and well-being. Despite not being in the Olympic programme, the cricket world has still benefited from a surge in interest. Local teams and initiatives have seen a steady growth in numbers over recent years, and it is possible to buy a large range of accessories and cricket clothing online.
Regardless of the status for cricket - an Olympic sport or not - it remains fantastic way to keep fit and socialise. The sport is suitable for all ages and abilities, from young children to the older generations. What better way to enjoy a summer day than to team up and hit a few wickets, followed by a traditional afternoon tea? Take a look online for local venues and teams.