Cricket could be set to make a return to the Olympics after 124 years, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson reevaling that a formal decision to apply might be taken around July this year.
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A majority of the ICC members are in favour of cricket being a part of the Olympics with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set to consider the addition of new sports for the 2024 Olympics. Rugby Sevens was introduced for the first time during the recently concluded Rio Olympics 2016, while baseball and softball will make a return in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
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"I think a majority of the (ICC) members and certainly myself think the time is right. I think we have come to the conclusion the overall benefit to globalise it (cricket) and grow the game will outweigh any negatives. We need to make a decision by July this year so we can make an application in time for September, when, as I understand it, the IOC will consider new sports for 2024," Cricbuzz quoted Richardson as saying.
The last time cricket was played at the Olympics was during the year 1900 in Paris and it could return to the French capital as Paris and Los Angeles are the two remaining candidates to host the 2024 Olympics. Richardson said both those cities would be great venues, but admitted scheduling would be the most challenging part.
"Neither Los Angeles and Paris would be disasters and each might hold opportunities for us, especially the United States option. In Europe, too, it would be good although we would have to spend a bit more on cricket pitches in France than the US but it's not impossible," Richardson said.
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"From an ICC perspective the most challenging part is the scheduling as the Olympic Games is normally held in the Northern Hemisphere summer. It could be a problem for England, who for instance wouldn't want to send their best players during an Ashes series and they have raised that concern in the past."
One of the main factors that will decide if the sport is to be included is if the best players can take part and Richardson said the IOC had said the best players must be involved if cricket is to win inclusion. He also spoke about the best format that would be suited for the Olympics and mentioned T20 cricket to being the perfect fit for the Games.
"They've told us we mustn't send beach cricket or six-a-side teams, it must be a format played at international level and it must be our top players. Twenty20 is the ideal format and would be even better than (rugby) sevens, we would say, as it is one of the mainstream formats of cricket," Richardson said.
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