Cricket: Golf exodus puts cricket's Olympic bid in the rough

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has confirmed that golf's presence beyond 2020 will be discussed soon after Rio.
Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has confirmed that golf's presence beyond 2020 will be discussed soon after Rio.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Cricket's potential bid to become an Olympic sport from 2024 has been made tougher by the decision of leading golfers to stay away from Rio next month, according to the head of the sport's governing body.

David Richardson, the International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive, believes that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will need to be convinced that the top cricketers are committed to the event, which may struggle to match the profile of World Cups and major Test series.

More than 20 golfers, including the top four in the world rankings, have decided not to play in Rio.

Concerns about the Zika virus have been cited, but world No. 4 Rory Mcllroy has also said that his sport is irrelevant at the Olympics and that he may not even watch it on television during the Games.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, has confirmed that golf's presence beyond 2020 will be discussed soon after Rio, and Richardson anticipates a knock-on impact.

He said: "I think this might have made it even harder for us to get in because we will have to convince them our top teams and players will be there.

"They are quite keen for cricket to be involved, but it must be treated seriously and not an Under-23 event or a format not taken seriously."

Olympic events stand to clash with the English season and it was only last year that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) dropped its opposition to the idea.

The Board suggested initially that it could lose as much as US$160 million (S$215 million) through being unable to schedule home international matches at the same time.

Richardson said that a decision on whether to make a bid must be taken by this time next year.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Golf exodus puts cricket's Olympic bid in the rough'. Print Edition | Subscribe