The International Cricket Council (ICC) is close to taking a decision regarding a bid to include cricket, in its Twenty20 format, in the 2024 Olympic Games, its Chief Executive Officer Dave Richardson has said.
Richardson said the ICC will take a decision in June whether to apply with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics. He said majority of the Member Boards are in favour of the move.
"I think the majority of the members -- and certainly myself -- think the time is right and we've come to the conclusion that the overall benefit to the game in terms of globalising and growing it outweigh any negatives, so I'm hoping," Richardson said, speaking at the SportPro conference here.
"We need to make a decision by July so we can make an application in time for September, when, as I understand it, the IOC will consider new sports for 2024," he said.
If ICC's bid is accepted by the IOC, cricket will return to the Olympics fold for the first time in 124 years. Cricket last appeared at the 1900 Paris Olympics when only two teams -- Great Britain and France -- were involved.
Richardson said a Twenty20 event among six to eight teams was the most likely format for the Olympics, and suggested that it would help expand the sport whether the 2024 Games are held in Los Angeles or Paris.
"T20 is the ideal format and we'd say even better than rugby sevens as it's actually one of the mainstream formats of cricket," he said.
"They (IOC) have not said a sport would have to go (to make way for us) but they said when taking any decision on new sport they have put an overall limit on the number of athletes, so as a team sport we would only fit six to eight teams," he added.
"Neither LA nor Paris would be a disaster for us, in fact both would be opportunistic, especially the US option."
The host city for the 2024 Olympics has yet to be determined, with only Los Angeles and Paris left in the running.
Richardson conceded that the IOC had warned the ICC that it had to promise that the best players were sent to the Games -- which could raise problems with the England and Wales Cricket Board given that the Olympics are usually held at a time when Tests are played in England.
He also mooted the possibility of regional qualifying tournaments to decide which countries get to take part at the Olympics.
"They (IOC) have told us we must not send beach cricket or six-a-side teams, it must be a format played at international level and it must be our top players" - and He also suggested that England would be able to compete as Great Britain and potentially select Scottish or Irish players.
"From an ICC perspective, the fixture calendar is the most challenging part of it. In the northern hemisphere, the Olympics are held in the English summer, so that's a problem for them if they've got an Ashes series on.
(With inputs from PTI)