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Cricket in Olympics: Multi-billion dollar broadcast market, BCCI's push and ICC pitch perfect presentation

October 16, 2023 20:10 IST

IMAGE: Cricket’s inclusion in the 2028 LA Olympics was an outcome of a ‘pitch perfect’ presentation alongside several major contributing factors. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

A multi-billion dollar broadcast market, the game's most powerful board's positive intent and a perfect pitch by the global body based on a three-fold 'U-P-L' principle ensured cricket's inclusion in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has worked very closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Local Organising Committee of LA28 for the last two years to bring this to fruition.

However, one can't deny that without the BCCI's support, which in turn means the broadcasters' interest growing manifold, this wouldn't have been possible.


"BCCI supported this from the start, recognising the importance to the global game and in particular the associates who will benefit from being part of the Olympic movement. Then Jay (Shah) joined the working group and has been really supportive with everything," a senior member of the all-powerful ICC board told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

So what exactly was the ICC's pitch to IOC and LOC of LA28? It is learnt that the ICC's presentation was based on three core principles -- universality, popularity and legacy (U-P-L).


Universality means the appeal of cricket and what it brings to the Olympic movement.

With India being the second most populous nation and a monstrous TV and digital market, the broadcast revenues from South Asian -- read Indian market, for both IOC and LOC -- will witness a sharp rise.

The ICC presentation stressed that it's been based on the fact that it's a win-win scenario.

It's a win for the IOC as it takes the Games to South Asia, a win for LA28 as it introduces a sport that is diverse and dynamic in a diverse and dynamic city, and also a win for the ICC as it unlocks a new global fan-base and makes 108 ICC members part of the Olympic family, which will have funding opportunities.        


Popularity is the most important aspect as it involves the world's second most popular sport, its huge commercial appeal, the world's best players being part of the Games and T20 being a 'Cricketainment' (cricket plus entertainment).

How big the commercial aspect is could be gauged by former Olympic champion shooter and LA28 sports director Nicolo Campriani drawing Virat Kohli's commercial entity to prove cricket's worth in the Olympic Programme.

"My friend here Virat (Kohli) is the third-most followed athlete in the world with 340 million followers on social media. That is more than Le Bron James, Tom Brady and Tiger Woods combined," Campriani said during his speech at the IOC convention in Mumbai on Monday.

"This is the ultimate win-win-win for the LA28, the IOC and cricket community as cricket will be showcased on a global stage to grow beyond the traditional cricket countries," Campriani said.

Legacy and role of two corporates

The creation of legacy in a nascent market like the United States could be a challenge but one would get a fair idea of how things would pan out when the T20 World Cup happens there next year.

"We had a lot of meetings with both LA and IOC and we hosted LA delegation at the Commonwealth Games last summer so they could see how a cricket event was run," the ICC Board member informed.

The most significant of all presentations was made in Los Angeles last December.

A big presentation was done to LA (LOC) in December last year with ICC chairman Greg Barclay, CEO Geoff Allardice, head of marketing and communications Claire Furlong, former Pepsico head honcho Indra Nooyi, former women's skipper Mithali Raj and Paraag Marathe, who is head of 49ers Enterprises, which owns the 'American Football' team San Francisco 49ers and is now chairman of popular English football team Leeds United.

Marathe has also been a former chair of USA Cricket while Nooyi brought her multiple decades of corporate leadership experience to the table.

"She has worked closely with us, guided us and is connected with the LA leadership," the board member added.

Marathe's understanding of the South Asian diaspora in the United States, which will throng to the stadiums, also played a role.

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