Tendulkar takes in Rio rugby as cricket remains outside the pale | Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO The sight of cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar sitting in the stands on the first morning of the Rio Games rugby competition on Saturday was a reminder that at least one major international sport remains outside the Olympic embrace. Accompanied by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, India's greatest sporting icon watched the opening matches of a shortened version of a sport that has some parallels with his own.

Reuters August 07, 2016 08:23:37 IST
Tendulkar takes in Rio rugby as cricket remains outside the pale
| Reuters

Tendulkar takes in Rio rugby as cricket remains outside the pale
 Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO The sight of cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar sitting in the stands on the first morning of the Rio Games rugby competition on Saturday was a reminder that at least one major international sport remains outside the Olympic embrace.

Accompanied by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, India's greatest sporting icon watched the opening matches of a shortened version of a sport that has some parallels with his own.

Like rugby, the elite level of cricket is largely populated by a handful of former British colonies and the game is widely perceived as unfathomable by many outside that heartland.

Unlike rugby, however, cricket has been slow to take up the chance to return to the Olympic fold since Bach opened up opportunities for new sports to replace those considered unappealing to the younger demographic he wants to attract.

With the return of golf and rugby at the Rio Games, and with baseball and softball set to return in Tokyo in 2020, cricket, and the Indian subcontinent that provides the vast majority of its most fervent fans, represents a final frontier for the IOC.

Barring a fast fading memory of a once dominant hockey team and the odd shooting gold, India's 1.2 billion people have had little to shout about at the Olympics for many a long year.

There are signs, however, that Bach's accompanying Tendulkar to the rugby in Rio was only part of increasing IOC attempts to engage the sport that dominates India, and the country itself.

As recently as Thursday, Nita Ambani, an Indian businesswoman and owner of the Mumbai franchise in the hugely popular Indian Premier League cricket competition, was elected to the IOC.

For World Rugby's chief executive Brett Gosper, whose sport returned to the Olympics for the first time in 92 years on Saturday, the potential benefits for cricket were clear.

"Sachin was here for a whole session, loved it and was interested in rugby’s journey to the Olympics and why that's an interesting prospect, possibly, for cricket," he said.

"If cricket has similar ambitions to rugby, which is to take its footprint out of its comfort zone, then there’s nothing like the Olympics to allow you to do that."

Clashes with an already busy international schedule and a desire to protect its own television deals and tournaments have been behind cricket's reluctance to engage with the Olympics.

The International Cricket Council has, however, indicated that next year it will present a case for inclusion at the 2024 Olympics, with the shorter Twenty20 the most likely format.

While Gosper, whose former IOC vice president father Kevan was also at the rugby on Saturday, was keen to point out what cricket would gain from being in the Games, he was the first to admit that benefits would also flow the other way.

"Of course, cricket would be good for the Olympics too," he said. "It would certainly bring an Indian audience, which is considerable ..."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

India pacers will not be as effective as Neil Wagner in bowling bouncers, says Australia's Matthew Wade
First Cricket News

India pacers will not be as effective as Neil Wagner in bowling bouncers, says Australia's Matthew Wade

India's formidable pace attack will not be as effective as New Zealand speedster Neil Wagner in bowling bouncers during their upcoming tour of Australia, feels wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

With Melbourne battling surge in coronavirus cases, Sydney makes pitch to host India Boxing Day Test
First Cricket News

With Melbourne battling surge in coronavirus cases, Sydney makes pitch to host India Boxing Day Test

Currently four Tests against India are pencilled in for Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney from early December, with Perth hosting Afghanistan.

Australia pacer Mitchell Starc reaches settlement in insurance fight for missing IPL in 2018 due to injury
First Cricket News

Australia pacer Mitchell Starc reaches settlement in insurance fight for missing IPL in 2018 due to injury

Starc has reached a settlement in his fight for an insurance payout of USD 1.53 million for losing his IPL deal with Kolkata Knight Riders due to an injury in 2018.