Cricket Teams
Peter Della Penna, Cricket 483d

Difficult to fit Olympics into cricket calendar - ICC's Tim Anderson

There has been a push for Twenty20 cricket to become an Olympic sport, but chances of that happening may diminish if the ICC reverses its decision to switch the World T20 from a two-year to a four-year cycle.

Cricket is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which, it is understood, has "encouraged" the ICC to apply for the inclusion of a Twenty20 event in the Olympics, featuring up to 12 teams, both men and women.

While governing bodies of other sports have been quick to seize the exposure Olympic status can provide, the ICC has maintained a deliberate approach to the matter. At the last two ICC board meetings - on February 3 and April 24 in Dubai - they have deferred taking a final position on whether or not to make an application to the IOC.

If the World T20 continues to take place once every two years, there is a chance that it would clash with the quadrennial cycle of the Summer Olympics. ICC head of global development Tim Anderson conceded it would be difficult to squeeze two major global T20 championships into the same calendar year.

"It's a big decision, there are some pros and cons," he told ESPNcricinfo, "The ICC board has had long discussions and more recent discussions about the potential of cricket to participate in the Olympics. There's been direct conversations with the IOC very recently and I think the continued dialogue with the IOC is really important but at this point our board has not made a decision in that regard.

"I think one of the additional pieces to the dynamic now is lots of discussion around the possibility of having two World Twenty20s in a four-year cycle," Anderson said. "That would be great for cricket, too, I think and if that did happen, then you've got a really packed schedule of Twenty20 cricket internationally. Whether that positive move means that potentially another positive move is not possible, that's certainly one of the conversations that's happening at the board right now.

"It's hard to really say whether it's possible to fit two World Twenty20s and an Olympic Games in a four-year cycle. Obviously if we have two World Twenty20s it's going to make the calendar much tighter and more difficult I would imagine. But I think the appetite right now around the board and Full Members for consideration of reform of international cricket is really strong. All of these things have been taken into consideration."

Financial permutations are also a major factor. While the ICC controls broadcast rights and revenue distribution for its own competitions, they would cede both to the IOC for an Olympic T20 tournament. However, with the increase in government funding for sports with Olympic status, member countries who lose out on ICC revenue can still make up the difference.

The ICC's confirmed cycle of tournaments, in conjunction with the end of the current TV broadcast rights contract, ends in 2023. An opportunity to tweak the international calendar at the end of 2023 is one reason why the ICC had targeted an Olympic T20 competition in 2024.

ICC had unveiled a strategic plan to help develop cricket in the USA and if Los Angeles wins the hosting rights for that year's Summer Games, there could be a chance that the ICC would submit an application to the IOC to include cricket. However, they would need to do so by September 2017 - when the host for the Olympics is announced - if cricket realistically has a hope of being approved for the 2024 Summer Games.

In the past, administrators from leading Full Members have been reluctant to have cricket in the Olympics. England's Giles Clarke had once claimed "we don't have the space in our calendar." However, Anderson claims the "appetite for reform" is as strong.

"We obviously know that the Associate and Affiliate members are keen for it to happen," Anderson said. "There's lots of positive things being discussed about the reform of the international cricket program which for AMs is potentially really really important. It's a part of a very large and complicated conversation."

ICC's next board meeting is in July in Edinburgh.

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