Cricket will be included in the 2028 Los Angeles Games after gaining the approval of the International Olympic Committee for a six-team T-20 tournament for both men and women.
Lacrosse, squash and baseball-softball, proposed for inclusion by LA Games organisers, also received approval at an IOC meeting in Mumbai on Monday.
Each host city, under IOC rules, can request the inclusion of several sports for their edition of the games.
The five sports had already been given the nod from the powerful IOC Executive Board last week, with the session on Monday approving its recommendation. All five sports were voted in as a single package with two “no” votes from about 90 IOC members in the room.
Cricket, which enjoys a massive following in India and has a fast-growing global audience, returns to the games after more than a century, having appeared once at the 1900 Olympics.
The LA Games proposal is for a six-team Twenty20 cricket tournament for men and women.
The IOC hopes cricket’s inclusion will activate and engage a large, new Olympic audience, especially among Asian fans of the sport.
The annual Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, with an estimated brand value of $8.4bn, is one of the richest sport leagues in the world and continues to attract the world’s top players and coaches. The tournament is played in the same T20 format that the game will feature in the LA 2028.
India, currently hosting the 50-over Cricket World Cup, will bid to host the 2036 Olympics.
“After a wait of more than a century, our beloved sport is back on the Olympic stage,” former India captain Sachin Tendulkar wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “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!”
International Cricket Council Chairman Greg Barclay said he was “thrilled” by cricket’s inclusion in 2028.
“To have the opportunity to showcase our great sport at the LA 28 Games and hopefully many Olympic Games to come will be great for players and fans alike,” he said.
In the same statement, Mithali Raj, former India women’s cricket captain and leading female run scorer of all time, said the news was exciting for the sport.
“Players will get the chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal and be part of the games which will be so special,” she said. “It’s also a chance for more fans around the world to enjoy our fantastic sport.”
While all five sports’ inclusion is only for one edition of the games, they are banking on the boost provided by Olympic participation to spur growth as they look to remain an attractive Olympic product going into the next four-year cycle.
Flag football is a non-contact format of American football played by teams of five. American football last featured as a demonstration sport in the 1932 LA Games.
Baseball has featured in several previous Olympics. It was added to the 2020 Tokyo programme after being left off in 2012 and 2016, but it will not be a part of the Paris Games.
Softball, the female counterpart to baseball, has appeared at five previous editions of the Summer Games and was also left off the Paris 2024 agenda.
Lacrosse twice appeared as a medal sport at the Olympics, in 1904 and 1908. It will be played in a six-a-side format at LA 2028.
Sources: Al Jazeera, news agencies.