Is cricket on course to become an Olympic sport?

Updated: 08 June 2011 13:26 IST

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, is keen to see cricket becoming an Olympic sport in the future. Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Rogge also indicated that if cricket were to feature in the Olympic games, it would have to be through its shorter versions.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, is keen to see cricket becoming an Olympic sport in the future. Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Rogge also indicated that if cricket were to feature in the Olympic games, it would have to be through its shorter versions.

"The ICC will decide at the end of June whether they will make an application (for making cricket an Olympic sport)," Rogge said. "We would welcome an application. It's an important, popular sport and very powerful on television. It's a sport with a great tradition where mostly you have a respect of the ethics. In the Olympics, it will not be Test cricket, of course."

A formal application to take part in the Olympics does not appear to be on the ICC's horizon at present. "There are currently no plans to submit an application to add cricket to event programme. The matter is not on the agenda for the Board meeting in June," an ICC spokesman told ESPNcricinfo.

Rogge, the 69 year-old former Belgium rugby union player and surgeon, revealed that he was a huge fan of cricket and that he follows the sport whenever he can. "When I'm at my office, whether it be at home or here in Lausanne, I put the telly on and I have a Test match or a one-day match on," Rogge said. "I continue to work and once in a while I hear a big roar and I know something has happened, an lbw or a run out, and I watch the replay."

Rogge developed an interest in the game when he was introduced to French cricket by relatives in Cornwall, whom he visited in his formative years. "Let's be very clear, I can't play cricket, but I know the rules," he said. "I love the game. I have watched Sachin Tendulkar, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Warne, Ian Botham. It's tactically very interesting, a game of patience, a game of great skills and the only sport where, after five days, you can have a draw!"

Rogge will step down after the 2012 games in London, which will become the first city to host the Olympics three times. Rogge expects it to be a historic event, and his biggest concern is the menace of illegal bookmakers. Like cricket, football and other popular sports have come under the match-fixing spectre, and Rogge believes it can have a more damaging impact on sport than doping scandals.

"We had monitoring in Vancouver and in Beijing and there was no sign of illegal betting in either those Games," Rogge said. "But it would be naive to say this could not happen at the London Olympics. Of course, I am worried it could happen. We have to be ready.

"People don't bet any more on the result but on the facts of a match - like bowling no-balls, who is going to concede the first corner in a football match, or who is going to make the second double fault in tennis; events that are not suspicious when you see them in isolation.

"We are looking at a system whereby governments will legislate in controlling and defending sport. We also want governments to exchange information with us and Interpol. The illegal betting networks are very international. You can bet from the far end of one continent on a match played at the far end of another continent.

"We've been told by Interpol that the criminal gangs involved with illegal gambling are the same gangs who deal with drugs and prostitution. So it's not a couple of guys wanting to make a few quick bucks out of fixing a match."

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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