After last being played in Paris in 1900, cricket’s readmission as an Olympic sport was officially confirmed for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games (“LA28”) this week at the International Olympic Committee’s meeting on the sidelines of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in Mumbai, India.
Alongside cricket, softball-baseball, flag (American) football, lacrosse and squash have also been included in the LA28 program. It is hoped that cricket, after success in Los Angeles, will then be carried over to Brisbane in 2032.
The news comes only a week after the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu National Women’s Cricket Team were awarded medals by the President of the Republic of Vanuatu for their unbeaten run in winning the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup East Asia Pacific Qualifier, retaining their spot as the country’s highest ranked sporting team, 29th in the world in the international T20 table.
Cricket is said to be the second-largest sport in the world due to the size of its fan base and broadcasting rights fees. It is particularly popular in countries and regions with strong traditional ties to the UK, with strong teams and professional leagues on all five continents.
The broadcasting rights fee per game for the Indian Premier League (“IPL”) has surpassed that of the Premier League in England and is now the second highest after the NFL in the United States.
Since around 2000, the International Cricket Council (“ICC”) has been supporting the growth of the game in other parts of the world, and the game has been growing significantly. As the shorter, more action-packed twenty-over T20 format has become mainstream, cricket has attracted new participants and fans, and its popularity is growing rapidly. There are now 106 members of the ICC.
Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Women's National Cricket Team members swept the awards at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup EAP Qualifier. Form left: Rachel Andrew (Best Batter and overall Player of the Tournament), Captain Selina Solman, and 16-year-old Vanessa Vira (Bowler of the Tournament)
Three decades ago in 1991, Mark Stafford became the president of what was then the Port Vila Cricket Association and developed it into the Vanuatu Cricket Association (VCA). The VCA then became a member of the ICC in 1995. In 2001, the VCA’s cricket development program began with 400 participants and one full-time staff in Port Vila. Now in 2023, the VCA has grown in leaps and bounds and boasts over 30 staff, five sub-locations for cricket development outside of Port Vila (Luganville, South Santo, Malekula, Tanna and North Efate), over 20,000 participants around Vanuatu and is home to the two highest ranked national sporting teams globally across all sport in the country, its senior men’s and women’s teams. Vanuatu Cricket CEO, Tim Cutler, was delighted at the news: “Olympic readmission has long been a dream for the cricketing world, and we are very excited to learn of the official decision. “From the outside, many may wonder how a six-team men’s and women’s Olympic event will benefit the game’s global growth. However, considering the additional funding, access to facilities and support, as well as affirming its legitimacy as a global sport in many markets where Olympic inclusion is a must-have for support from government and the like, the positive impact this will have on cricket worldwide cannot be overstated. “At the VCA we pride ourselves on making a positive contribution to our community, and this can be from the performances of our senior national teams – especially including how they carry themselves as ambassadors for the country – all the way through our leagues, school initiatives, and social impact programs “Appeal Against Violence” that tackle gender-based violence, and the now 12-year old Women’s Island Cricket, a format of the sport that empowers Vanuatu women through participation, and education about non-communicable diseases and other important issues. “There’s no better time to get involved with cricket, as a player, coach, or official, whether for yourself, your family, village, school, or Church group. I encourage anyone who is interested to get in contact with us here, or via our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vanuatucricketassociation.