‘Cricket’s inclusion in Olympics makes both commercial and sporting sense’

March 14, 2024 07:57 pm | Updated 07:57 pm IST - BENGALURU

Andy Anson, chair of the British Olympic Association, flanked by GoSport Foundation’s Deepthi Bopaiah (left) and RCB’s Rajesh Menon. Also seen FCBU’s Gaurav Manchanda (extreme right)

Andy Anson, chair of the British Olympic Association, flanked by GoSport Foundation’s Deepthi Bopaiah (left) and RCB’s Rajesh Menon. Also seen FCBU’s Gaurav Manchanda (extreme right) | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Cricket is far from a global sport, with the best versions of it confined to the Commonwealth nations. But Andy Anson, chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and also president of the Lancashire Cricket Club, said that cricket’s inclusion for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics was the right call.

Anson was speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘What it takes to win on and off the field’, organised by Lancashire Cricket and supported by the British Deputy High Commission, here on Wednesday, alongside Deepthi Bopaiah, CEO GoSports Foundation, Rajesh Menon, vice-president Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gaurav Manchanda, founder FC Bengaluru United.

“Cricket was a big omission from the Olympics,” Anson said. “It made absolute sense to include it now considering its reach. For the IOC, it made commercial sense and for cricket it made sporting sense to join the Olympic movement.“

With India being world cricket’s nerve centre and the country expressing a concrete desire to host the 2036 edition of the Olympics, a potential coming together of the two has excited many.

“Everyone would like the Olympics in India,” quipped Anson. “It is an untapped market. It is also such a diverse country with so many different people. In a sense it is similar to the diversity in Team Great Britain, something we celebrate.

“And that reflected in Tokyo 2020 where we won more medals across more sports than any other country. So India too should get the Olympics and 2036 would be right.”

If India eventually wins the bid, sound planning will be the need of the hour. “Twelve years may seem long, but it is a short time to build talent and infrastructure,” said Bopaiah. “We have to put the money on the younger lot as well and not just the elite. I feel the three things that we have to focus on are — setting up of professional teams, creating pathways for success and funding.”

The amount of money to be spent on sport is often a contentious topic, but Anson pointed out how Britain successfully navigated this by securing not a single penny from the government but from the National Lottery set up by Prime Minister John Major in 1994.

“The lottery was the game changer for us. We had a disastrous Olympics at Atlanta 1996, winning just one gold medal. The lottery funding changed things and at Beijing we had over 50 medals, including 20 (19) golds. Not all sports are commercial and they need support.“

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