Cricket's Chequered Journey Back to Olympics

Know why cricket is not in the Olympic Games despite being in the plan since the inaugural Games. Also, know about cricket’s return to the Olympics in 2028.

Cricket's Chequered Journey Back to Olympics
Subhayan Dutta

Written by: Subhayan Dutta

(Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2024-02-09

5 minutes read

The lack of enough participants has been one of the main reasons why cricket is not in the Olympics. However, with more and more nations taking up the sport and cricket’s immense rise in popularity over the last century, the game has been included in the 2028 Olympics, which is scheduled to be hosted in Los Angeles.

Surprisingly, the inaugural Summer Games in 1896, which was held in Athens, had cricket in the plans. However, it had to be scrapped owing to inadequate participation and the tournament was cancelled. Four years later, when the 1900 Olympic Games were hosted by Paris, cricket was again in the scheme of things.

Cricket in Olympics

Organizing the cricket tournament in the 1900 Summer Games looked like a forced affair, as the lack of participants was yet again the issue. Great Britain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands were supposed to participate in the tournament before Belgium and the Netherlands pulled out.

Though it didn’t make sense to have just two teams competing in the Olympics, which had a place for three medals on the podium, the committee decided to give it a go. Consequently, Great Britain and France competed in the gold medal match at a cycling venue named Vélodrome de Vincennes, on August 19 and 20.

The only Cricket match ever played as part of Olympics was in 1900 between France and Great Britain.jpeg

Interestingly, none of the players in the Great Britain team had represented the national side despite England playing regular cricket with Australia since 1877. While England asked players from the Devon and Somerset Wanderers club, who were touring France at the time, to represent them, France had a cricket team called All Paris to play for them. Incidentally, all 12 members of the French team were English immigrants.

The rules of the game weren’t very familiar either. Contrary to the six-day cricket match which was the norm back then, the 1900 Olympics had the cricket match played over just two days. Apart from the two-day game, this match also had 12 players participate from each side, which prevented this game from being labelled as an official match.  

The match was understandably a low-scoring affair with 366 runs scored across all four innings as England eventually won by 158 runs. The only two batters to score fifties in the match were Charles Beachcroft, the captain of Great Britain, and Alfred Bowerman, both of which came in the second innings.

A cricket game at the opening ceremony of 2012 Olympics..jpeg

Interestingly, the victorious team received silver medals, while France received bronze. Both teams also received little replicas of the Eiffel Tower. The competition was officially recognised as an Olympic event only in 1912, and the medals were eventually changed to gold and silver, respectively.

Despite an underwhelming outing for cricket at the 1900 Olympic Games, the sport was again included in the plans for the 1904 Olympics in the USA’s St. Louis. But, low participation was yet again a factor and the sport was eventually dropped.

The Great Britain players after beating France in the only cricket match held in Olympics 1900.jpeg

Cricket in multi-sport international athletic competition

Cricket has been a part of three more multi-sport competitions - the 50-over cricket format was played in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, and the women's Twenty20 cricket was a fixture in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Apart from them, the Asian Games has held a T20 format cricket tournament three times - in 2010, 2014 and 2022 - for both men and women. While Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India won gold medals in the men’s tournament in 2010, 2014 and 2022 respectively, the women’s tournament was twice by Pakistan (2010 and 2014) and once by India (2022).

BCCI Women Team in Commonwealth Games CWG 2022.jpeg

The most recent Asian Games cricket tournament held in 2022 in China’s Hangzhou also received an international status.

Cricket in the Olympics 2028

After a gap of 118 years, Cricket will return to the Olympic Summer Games for the first time since the 1900 Olympics. It will be one of the five additional sports at the LA 2028 Games namely baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash.

The news was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai on Monday, October 16, 2023.

Former Indian cricket team captain and king of cricket Virat Kohli’s immense popularity was one of the main reasons why cricket was reinstated in the Olympics. Announcing cricket’s return to the Summer Games, Niccolo Campriani, the Sports Director of the Los Angeles 2028 Organising Committee, said, “My friend Virat Kohli has 340 million Social Media followers, making him the third most followed athlete - surpassing combined numbers of LeBron James (NBA basketball star), Tom Brady (American football icon) and Tiger Woods (American golf legend).”

“It is a win-win situation for LA28, IOC and the cricket community as cricket will be showcased on a global stage, to grow it beyond traditional cricketing nations and give it access to untapped communities of athletes and fans," Campriani added.

Another Indian cricket legend, known as the God of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar also expressed his excitement. “After a wait of more than a century, our beloved sport is back on the Olympic stage at @LA28,” Tendulkar tweeted.

“This marks the dawn of a new era for cricket as it will be a golden opportunity to foster inclusivity and showcase new talent from emerging cricketing nations. A start of something truly special!.”

FAQs

Is Cricket in the Olympics 2024?

No. However, the Summer Olympics have included cricket as a program. It has only ever been played once, during the Summer Olympics in 1900, when Great Britain won the men's division. Another inclusion is planned for 2028.

Why India is not hosting the Olympics?

One of the most frequent causes of this is that the infrastructural expenditures that host nations incur to get ready for the games usually don't result in enough demand for their economy in the years that follow.

Will India host the 2036 Olympics?

At the 141st International Olympic Committee session opening ceremony in Mumbai, the Indian Prime Minister recently declared that India would host the Olympic Games, ideally in 2036.

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Subhayan Dutta

Subhayan Dutta

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.

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