Cricket is expected to be included in the 40-sport roster for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. It was left out of the last edition of the games, in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
“Cricket will return at Hangzhou,” Olympic Council of Asia honorary life vice president Randhir Singh told Reuters.
The South China Morning Post reports this will be a big boost for the sport in Hong Kong – Asian Games inclusion brings funding and support from the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the territory’s government-funded sports development body.
“We are aware that the ICC, ACC, China Cricket and the OCA are working hard to ensure cricket’s return to the Asia Games in 2022, for which we are grateful,” said CHK chief executive Justin Pearce. “This latest news is very positive, and, if correct, has many positive consequences for high-performance cricket in Hong Kong.”
One challenge to be addressed is finding a suitable venue in Hangzhou. Venues proposed to date, including the Zhejiang University of Technology grounds, are considered too small, which has left the OCA scrambling to find alternatives.
Singh, the chairman of the coordination committee for the games, said on a visit to Hangzhou: “They showed us grounds that were a bit small. We asked for options for bigger grounds.”
Twenty20 cricket, the format used in previous Asian Games such as Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, is the most likely format for the Hangzhou games, given its shorter duration and popularity compared to five-day test cricket.
There are some remaining concerns remain about team participation. The Indian cricket board (BCCI), the game’s richest and most influential board, did not allow its team to participate in the 2010 or 2014 Asian Games, due to an already packed international schedule.
But Indian Olympic Association secretary Rajeev Mehta is optimistic about the prospects for the team’s participation in 2022. He told Reuters: “We will send a letter to the BCCI requesting them to send a team for Hangzhou 2022. We welcome the OCA’s decision to include cricket for the next Games.”