Cricket and flag football were among five sports added to the programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Games on Monday after being approved by the International Olympic Committee as it looks to tap into new global audiences.
Lacrosse, squash and baseball-softball were also approved at an IOC meeting in Mumbai, having been proposed by 2028 organisers.
Under IOC rules, each host city can request the inclusion of several sports for their edition of the Games.
The five sports put forward by the organisers had already been given the nod from the powerful IOC Executive Board last week, with the session on Monday approving its recommendation with a show of hands.
“Cricket has evolved very, very much over recent years,” IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters. “We have seen the growing international importance of cricket and the Olympic Games want to incorporate the most popular sports worldwide.”
The IOC session also approved the inclusion of modern pentathlon, after the international federation replaced horse riding with an obstacle running course following a scandal at the Tokyo Olympics where a coach struck a horse that refused to jump a fence.
Weightlifting also secured its spot after changes were made to its anti-doping testing procedures, among other things. Both sports had been provisionally left out of the LA Games.
Boxing’s participation remained in doubt and any decision to include it was put on hold pending developments in governance issues.
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, with a proposed six-team Twenty20 format – the shortest international format of the game – for both women and men.
“We are thrilled that cricket’s inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games has been confirmed by the IOC Session today,” International Cricket Council Chairman Greg Barclay said.
“To have the opportunity to showcase our great sport at the LA28 Games and hopefully many Olympic Games to come will be great for players and fans alike.”
The IOC hopes cricket’s inclusion will activate and engage a large, new Olympic audience, with the sport’s worldwide fan base estimated at 2.5 billion people.
The annual Indian Premier League cricket tournament, with an estimated brand value of $8.4 billion, is one of the richest leagues in the world across sports and continues to attract the world’s top players and coaches to India. – Reuters