Right from the beginning, the Olympics organizers have been keen on including cricket in the prestigious tournament and the sport also make its appearance at the 1900 Games in Paris. Cricket is likely to make a comeback at the 2028 Olympics as the ICC is working towards getting the sport included in the roster for the Los Angeles Games, MCC World Cricket Committee chairman Mike Gatting said. To top it off, BCCI recently came under the ambit of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), an affiliate of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which could be key to the final outcome as it is mandatory for all sporting federations' doping policy to be overseen by the premier body.
ICC has always been open for presenting cricket in the Olympics and is already in compliance with NADA right from 2006 and it was BCCI who was reluctant to come in compliance with NADA but now the situation seems to be changing.
Decades-long fight comes to an end
On August 9, BCCI ended the decade long fight with the international organization and finally agreed to be NADA complaint. Earlier the dope-test that the BCCI used to conduct on players was given to Sweden-based International Doping Management (IDTM), the organization used to collect the samples of the cricketers and submit them to the National Dope Testing Laboratory. But this will not be the case anymore.
And to make BCCI take such huge step which it was hesitating to do from a long time, the sports ministry held back the clearances of the tours by South Africa A and women's teams in order to put extreme pressure on the BCCI so that they can eventually agree for NADA.
There have been a lot of arguments in the past, where BCCI has usually said that it is not a National Sports Federation (NSF) and is an autonomous body affiliated to ICC. NSF is recognized by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and gets all the funding from the government. Whereas BCCI has an autonomous status and comes under the Ministry of Sports.
To make the fact more clear, in the case of Board of Control for Cricket, India & Anr. V. Netaji Cricket Club & Ors.,19 the court held that:
"BCCI enjoys a monopoly status as regard (to) regulation of the sport of cricket… It controls the sport of cricket and lays down the law therefor. It enjoys benefits by way of tax exemption and right to use stadia at a nominal annual rent. It earns a huge revenue not only by selling tickets to the viewers but also selling right to exhibit films live on TV and broadcasting the same… Its full members are the State Associations except, Association of Indian Universities, Railway Sports Control Board and Services Sports Control Board. As a member of ICC, it represents the country in the international fora. It exercises enormous public functions. It has the authority to select players, umpires and officials to represent the country in the international fora. It exercises total control over the players, umpires and other officers... Its control over the sport of competitive cricket is deep, pervasive and complete."
Therefore, it is pretty much clear why BCCI does not want to go under someone and lose the freedom to control the sport.
However, the BCCI is finally set to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency, with its compliance paving the way for their cricket teams to take part in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. In June, women's Twenty20 cricket moved a step closer to feature in the 2022 Commonwealth Games after being nominated by organizers for its potential inclusion in Birmingham.
Is it feasible to include cricket in the Olympics?
Though the plan is on the table right now, the feasibility of including cricket in a tournament like Olympics needs to be given a thought. The minimum timeframe of a cricket match is three hours and other sports that are involved in the Olympics are of shorter time span, say a maximum of two hours. And then grouping of the teams need to be done and if the grouping is done like how it is done in football then it will take around 100 hours of cricket which is just not going to look rational in any case.
Another reason why cricket is difficult to be included in the Olympics is the money that will be spent to prepare the pitch. Taking the example of LA Olympics, cricket not very popular in the United States of America and Los Angeles does not even have a proper cricket stadium, it just has few cricket fields, the rest are either baseball stadiums or NFL grounds. Therefore, it will be challenging to find a way out and even if the committee finds a solution, it is going to cost big bucks.
Moreover, cricket is a game which is played by very few countries in the world, therefore, the factor of lack of interest will be there. And in a country like the USA, where people are hardcore followers of baseball, they may not entertain another game that includes a bat and a ball. For the 2020 Olympics, already 33 sports are included and every year the number of sports in the Olympics goes up and the burden is increased on the committee and the organizers. And now that the BCCI is going to come under NADA, extensive planning will be needed by ICC to execute a strategy that will work for LA Olympics in 2028 but the truth is, things are going to be tough.
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