Table of Contents
- Afghanistan’s participation in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics hinges on the decision of the International Olympics Council, not the ICC.
- The IOC approved T20 cricket as a new sport for LA28, with a six-team event for both men’s and women’s competitions.
- Challenges persist for Afghanistan’s women cricket players in exile, but the ICC supports their development amid changing political landscapes.
The fate of Afghanistan’s participation in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics lies within the purview of the International Olympics Council (IOC), according to Geoff Allardice, the chief executive officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Allardice addressed the challenge of Afghanistan’s women cricket players being forced into exile since the Taliban assumed power in 2021, emphasizing that it is the IOC, not the ICC, that holds the decision-making authority.
The IOC’s endorsement of LA28’s proposal to include T20 cricket as a new sport was influenced by the game’s popularity in Commonwealth countries and among the younger generation. The approval paved the way for a six-team event for both men’s and women’s competitions, as suggested by the ICC. Collaboration between the LA28 and ICC is expected to finalize the competition structure and the criteria for team qualification by 2025.
Afghanistan may not play 2028 Los Angeles Olympics
Gender equality is a key focus for the LA28 organizers, but Afghanistan currently lacks a women’s cricket team due to 22 out of 25 contracted players moving abroad following the Taliban’s takeover. Despite this, there remains a possibility that the men’s team may participate in the event five years from now.
Allardice clarified the process of Olympic team selection, stating,
“In the Olympic competition, teams are fielded by the National Olympic Committees of those countries.”
He emphasized the alignment of the ICC’s stance with other international sporting organizations in supporting Afghanistan’s cricket development amid challenging circumstances.
The IOC has engaged with the Taliban government, emphasizing potential consequences for Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) if women’s access to sports remains restricted. As of now, the IOC has not approved Afghanistan’s participation in the 2024 Paris Olympics. James Macleod, IOC head of Olympic Solidarity, acknowledged some progress during the Hangzhou Asian Games, where 17 out of 83 Afghan athletes were women, participating in volleyball, athletics, and cycling.
IOC president Thomas Bach stressed the responsibility of Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee to demonstrate progress in supporting women cricketers. While addressing the broader context, he suggested that cricket’s consideration would depend on these developments.
Allardice, who visited Hangzhou, highlighted the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s commitment to women’s cricket development before the regime change in 2021. The ICC’s working group, led by Imran Khwaja, has been in contact with the Taliban government to facilitate the safe participation of women in cricket.
Despite the challenges, the ICC supports its member in promoting cricket within the government-set rules. As a Full Member, the Afghanistan Cricket Board receives substantial funding, with autonomy in utilizing approximately USD 16.8 million from the ICC’s financial distribution model for the 2024-27 cycle. Allardice emphasized that the member boards have the flexibility to decide how the funds are allocated, underscoring the ICC’s hands-off approach in managing their financial resources.
“How those members distribute those funds and the use of that money is very much up to those members. With any of our members, we have a check and balance over how that money is distributed and whether it goes to certain contracts or other contracts. We don’t stipulate how that needs to be managed.”
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